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Are Bayern Munich Ruining the Bundesliga?

Saturday’s anti-climactic news that Robert Lewandowski has signed with FC Bayern Munich was further proof that the Bundesliga, the once hyper-competitive league, has become the exclusive province of the Bavarian giants. The Bundesliga once was comparable to the Premier League in terms of competition for titles (if not even more competitive), but it’s rapidly descending into a one team hegemony.

Lewandowski joins a long-list of players who previously won a Bundesliga title with another German club, to join Bayern in the prime of his playing career. He joins former BVB teammate Mario Götze on the list that has featured the likes of Mario Gomez and Michael Ballack on that list.

Bayern’s top officials have long been forceful advocates and proponents of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play restrictions. Those associated with the club have derided the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG for inflating the costs of transfers and player wages. Yet Bayern seems to have been a great beneficiary of set of rules that seems to lock in a virtual caste system among football clubs both in Germany and on the continent.

Club officials and many Bayern supporters have acted with a sense of entitlement and condescension when faced with discussion of Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG, Monaco, etc. But the reality is the rules that govern the sport both in Germany and in Europe have locked in the natural advantages Bayern enjoy over every single domestic rival and almost every continental one.

After years of seeing the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Manuel Neuer move from rival clubs to Bayern, the back-to-back titles won by BVB and the anti-Bayern attitude of Jürgen Klopp was a breath of fresh air to those fearing the league had become stale. Klopp refused to sell his top players to Bayern and refused to be bullied by the often pro-Bayern German press.

But in time, as contracts expired and reserve clauses were met, Bayern was able to beat back the threat from BVB.  Timing the signing of Götze last season to maximum impact with possible view of destroying Dormund’s Champions League campaign, Bayern was able to play psychological warfare with Klopp. My hope this past summer when Klopp bravely rejected Bayern’s attempts to bully BVB into a transfer deal was that the Polish striker would agree to be sold to another club, ANY other club. But alas, his move to Bayern, which will occur in the summer of 2014, could be the last straw for the competitiveness of the league.

Those who advocate Financial Fair Play must look at the Bundesliga and ask if this is what they want across the continent? Do they want monopolies or two–team duopolies in leagues (which was the situation in England before Roman Abramowich bought Chelsea) leaving European competition as the only mystery in a season as far major titles go?

Financial abuse is rife in soccer, no question about that. But other methods such as luxury taxes or more equitable distribution of TV monies can be used rather than the types of FFP reforms Bayern advocated and UEFA adopted.

The Bundesliga is a prime example of league that has been destroyed by the FFP regime. With it, it has lost the passionate interest of fans like myself who understand Bayern’s legacy and history but are tired of the condescending attitude they have taken towards the game. Moreover, if competitive soccer is what you want, this league — once one of the most compelling — is not for you.

Editor’s note: For the latest German soccer news, analysis and opinion, read the Bundesliga section.

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  1. KapUSMC

    January 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I tend to agree with Kartik on many of his posts… But I think this is a premature over reaction. While I agree that Lewandowski going to Bayern probably isn’t the best thing for the Bundesliga, I don’t recall stories about RVP, Fellani, and Rooney going to United would be the downfall of the EPL. But lets face it… It seems this year since the EPL is closer then usually is at the halfway mark that there considerably more talk about how the other leagues are dominated by just a few teams… When under almost every other year, the same thing applies to the EPL. Since 92 the Bundesliga has more different champions than the EPL, and United has more league titles than Bayern. If BVB hadn’t lost Hummels and Subotic and Piszczek and Gundogan they would be much closer in the table. Losing Lewandowski will hurt, but its not like Grobkreutz and Aubameyang are terrible. They will still have a very good team. Plus hopefully Laverkusen and Gladbach can pressure those two a little. Its just amazing, that following last years champions league final the narrative was about how the Bundesliga was potentially the crowning of a new king, and one signing later the league is in ruins.

    • Toby

      January 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Stop using that stat that Bundesliga has had more different winners that than the EPL in the last 20 years as evidence of competitiveness. Man Utd may have won more championships than Bayern over that time, but I can only think of 2 seasons Man Utd ran away with the league and were usually pushed by 2 or 3 teams. On each occasion Man Utd lost the league they never signed a player from the winning rival club, like Bayern can do in Germany. In fact Man Utd only signed Henning Berg from Blackburn when the team was no longer a title contender.

      Also Man Utd not targeting rival clubs players, meant the rival clubs were very strong and offered good competition. There was a point where the 4 best English teams, were the strongest in the world. Due to Bayern policy of targeting the best players of rival Bundesliga clubs meant up until last year only Bayern did well in Europe. So yes the BL has more different winners, but the quality of those non-Bayern winners was lower than the teams who finished behind Man Utd, because the German teams were never allowed build into strong teams. People thought Dortmund would be allowed to build, then Bayern took their best two players even when they are already much stronger than the rest.

  2. David G

    January 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Soccer is just reflecting Western Society. Small clubs really struggling, middle size clubs income not growing very much (TV aside in leagues that share TV income), large clubs growing but not nearly as fast as the giant clubs.

    All the clubs have a problem keeping up with the Giant clubs

    About 20 years ago the largest club in the world make about 2 to 2 1/2 times more income than the 20th largest club in the world (by revenue)

    Now its like 5 times as much and growing.

    Look as some of the teams that made Champs league final 10-20 years ago.

    Ajax, Marseille, Leverkusen, Porto, Liverpool, and if you go back even futher to the 80’s clubs like Red Star Belgrade, PSV, Benfica, Aston Villa, Hamburg, Forest…

    Last 6 years only 6 different teams have made the final of the champs league

    Barca, Chelsea, Man Unite, Inter, Bayern, Dortmound

    taking away the creating of more Oil FCs you have

    Real, Barca, Bayern, Oil FC Man City, Oil FC Chelsea, Oil FC PSG, and maybe Oil FC Monaco as the super teams

    these teams will be among the top teams in the world every year.

    Then there a teams below who will occasionally surprise to win leagues/champs league like Man U, Arsenal, Juventus, Dortmound, etc….

    Everyone else is screwed. Unless a middle east country or a Russian Thief buys Aston Villa you’ll never even see them in the Champs league again let alone winning it.

  3. Pakapala

    January 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    “Saturday’s anti-climactic news that Robert Lewandowski has signed with FC Bayern Munich was further proof that the Bundesliga, the once hyper-competitive league, has become the exclusive province of the Bavarian giants. The Bundesliga once was comparable to the Premier League in terms of competition for titles (if not even more competitive), but it’s rapidly descending into a one team hegemony.”

    Somebody just came out of a cave? Before writing an article like that I think it’s important to research on your subject. I don’t know where you get the idea that there was an era where the Bundesliga wasn’t dominated by the one and only Bayern. The challengers tend to change from years to years, but Bundesliga always have 1 constant at the top of the table: Bayern Munich.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      January 4, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Bayern has long been the one established power you are correct but we’ve gone through cycles where Dortmund, Leverkusen, Kaiserslauten, Bremen, Wolfsburg, Stuttgart, etc can challenge their hegemony for a few years.

      Now we are entering a cycle where they’ll win every title by a wide margin. In the 2000s even when they won titles they’d be pushed more often than not. Schalke pushed them 09-10, and in 05-06 Bremen pushed them. In both cases Bayern’s response was to take the best player from the second placed team (Neuer and Klose respectively.) Both of the following seasons, Bayern did NOT win the title.

      Now we are entering an era where they won’t even be threatened.

  4. Terry

    January 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Manchester United has many more fans than Bayern worldwide and yet has far less in commercial revenues than them? Why? The deck is stacked in Germany. Bayern gets all the sponsors, a disproportionate amount of TV money and has killed the competition.

    Germans tend to be very insular in thinking. This is why the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A have all gained more of an international following. Ligue Un is next. Soon it will surpass the Bundesliga in global interest with PSG and Monaco fighting for trophies and honours.

    Another matter is the German media which the author mentions. If a player doesn’t go Bayern it is automatically assumed in much of the press he lacks ambition. If he leaves the country to sign for Chelsea or Real Madrid than the player is selfish. Combine this with the DFL which is essentially run by Bayern and you have a situation where players are compelled to go to the club regardless.

    Props to Klopp for fighting the good fight. Sadly he’s lost. Maybe it is time for him to take his managerial skills to another league where his handiwork won’t be undone this easily by a group of arrogant, insular and corrupt officials.

    • Toby

      January 4, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Technically Bayern earned the same amount as Man Utd last season and that was a record income year for Bayern. But everything else I agreed with.

      It is this insular German mentality that you see at Bayern. You should read the interview Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge gave to the Guardian. He generally believes all Bayern have to do to be the biggest team in the world is open an office in New York and go on a few more international tours. He doesn’t understand that the reason people because more interested in the Bundesliga was because Dortmund looked like a team that could challenge Bayern for a long time. This has gone with this transfer and so will the interest.

      For me personally Bayern are just not a likeable team and that is part of the reason Bayern doesn’t transcend continents like other big European clubs. The fact Rummenigge believes Bayern alone can sell the Bundesliga shows you the insular,deluded, arrogance that exists at Bayern at Board level.

    • Arjun

      January 6, 2014 at 2:34 am

      Corrupt? How was Lewandowski’s free transfer corrupt? Just more delusional PL fanboy garbage

  5. Dave

    January 4, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    This is beyond pathetic, a truly rubbish article.

    Clubs are in control of their own destiny in the bundesliga, more than any other top league, dortmund were about to vanish and now 1 of the top teams in the world, even without lewa and gotze. If other clubs lack ambition or grit to make it, then they only have themselves to blame.

    Epl is only a big league because of outside money.

    La liga…. well, 2 teams get 90% of the money, bank bailouts, loans for wages…. the rest can suck it in a bankrupt country getting loans from Germany.

    This current team would crush opposition in every league right now, dortmund have just slipped this season because of injuries.

    • Brandon Kilgore

      January 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      It must really grind your gears that a vast majority of the world prefers a league reliant on foreign money to the German league. You may not have a competitive league league but at least you have a prodigious soap box to stand on.

      • Arjun

        January 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

        But then why is your national team garbage? The bundesliga’s reliance on youth instead of foreign millions is the reason as to why this is in existence. English footballers are garbage in contrast to the German talent out today, and that is directly due to the way the Bundesliga is set up.

        • Brandon Kilgore

          January 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

          I presume you are speaking about the English national team, which considering my particular circumstance of not being from England, I could truly care less about. And the subject of this article has absolutely nothing to do with national teams, your prior accusation that other poster were being jingoistic is the height of hypocrisy. (insert Back 2 Back World War Champs joke here)

          • Arjun

            January 6, 2014 at 2:30 am

            YOu totally miss the point. The national team example shows the quality of players the Bundesliga produces compared to the esteemed Premier League.

    • Toby

      January 4, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      If only it was true. All 20 EPL teams are in the top richest 30 teams in the world and blow everyone else out of the water in terms of overall revenue generation. Bayern had a record year for income generated, but it was the same as Man Utd in an average year.

      It is myth German fans keep saying about the EPL. They keep saying all English teams are owned by Arab or Russian billions who pump billions into the teams and that is why they are more success. They just can’t accept the truth that English teams are run by smarter people and English teams are most popular around the world and that is why English teams are so rich, because more people around the world want to pay to watch them. Bayern is the biggest team in Germany, but they are still smaller than Man Utd, Liverpool,Arsenal and Chelsea globally.

      Only insular German mentally has made this happen, because people at Bayern only think about dominating Germany and don’t think how this move will be perceived outside of Germany.

      Bayern aren’t as good as people think they are. Man Utd proved the Bundesliga is very weak, by destroying Leverkusen and all Bayern’s worst games have come against English teams, I think German teams are making them look good and Barcelona’s midgets with a had defence are made for Bayern’s tall muscular style.

      • Arjun

        January 5, 2014 at 9:48 am


        And Blackburn beating Arsenal last season proves that the championship is stronger than the PL?

        I love your logic! The classic “one game analysis” way of thinking.

        People forget that European resutls don’t represent leagues but just shows how well the particular team played on that day.

        • Kartik Krishnaiyer

          January 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

          The Premier League won 6 games and lost 2 versus the Bundesliga in the Champions League Group Stages. Toby’s one game is actually six.

          • Arjun

            January 6, 2014 at 2:32 am

            Then check out my two game analysis! Basel beat Chelsea over two games.

            EPL 0 – Swiss league 2

  6. Matt

    January 4, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I still enjoy watching the league (have to stream it though, don’t have GolTV) but nobody in the league will be competitive with Bayern for the next decade, they have ambitions of winning the treble multiple times.

    As for FFP, it won’t affect Bayern because they make a massive profit every season. They are proponents of FFP because most of the top Euro clubs are in heavy debt but continue to spend. And that’s where I agree with Bayern, you have clubs with massive debts still spending yet UEFA will be too scared to do anything about it, they will pick on clubs like Malaga or the random Greek/Turkish teams but they won’t touch the clubs which get eyes on the TV

    • David G

      January 4, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      FFP won’t effect any clubs but small ones. Large clubs can make up pretend sponsor ship deals to get around FFP

  7. Arjun

    January 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    People fail to realize that Lewandowski and Gotze would have left Germany in search of higher wages. But thanks to Bayern they are still in Germany. Nobody complained when EPL sides bought German talent form the Bundesliga. But god forbid Bayern do they same, and then it is a crime!

    You lot need to get over yourselves. Bayern have money, and can buy whoever wants to join their ranks. Their is nothing illegal in what they do, and they can do as they like. Stop whinging, PL fanboys!

    • Arjun

      January 4, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      SChurrle, Mertesacker and Ozil all left German clubs for big foreign teams. Is it a crime when lewa and Gorze do the same, but join a big German team intead?

      Just shows the anti-German bias in english football media, in my opinion

      • Kartik Krishnaiyer

        January 4, 2014 at 6:48 pm

        You haven’t been reading the Guardian have you? If anything they are anti-English and pro-German in their football pages. Always droning on about how Germany does it better and how football is more sophisticated and cosmopolitan on the continent in columns and their podcast.

        • Arjun

          January 5, 2014 at 9:42 am

          Its funny that you mentioned that because the guardian is one of the few sensible papers from the UK. The rest, like Mirror, Dailymail are all jingoistic garbage, papers that are inundated with EPL sycophancy and extreme arrogance.

          • Kartik Krishnaiyer

            January 5, 2014 at 10:35 am

            Agree on that! But I try and avoid reading some of those papers…the flight attendant on BA who tried to hand me the Mail and when I asked her if they had anything else she said “The Sun” made me sick. Tories and trash!

    • Brandon Kilgore

      January 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      The problem is simply that they are spending money, it is that the resources at their disposal so drastically outstrip those of any domestic competitors. And as an unbiased observer, which you have consistently proven not to be, such an imbalance will result in consistently non-competitive league. And if you prefer to avoid PL fanboys please feel free to direct your attention to a site that doesn’t mainly focus on the PL.

      • Brandon Kilgore

        January 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

        *problem isn’t

      • Arjun

        January 5, 2014 at 9:44 am

        Bayern have always had more money then the rest of their domestic rivals. But they have never dominated historically. If you have something called memory, you will recall that Dortmund won the Title back to back? How come no one was complaining of the “death of the Bundesliga” back then?

        • Brandon Kilgore

          January 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

          I can’t believe this website actually runs this clowns articles. He makes no effort to even appear unbiased. And i do have ‘something called memory,’ but that was a real zinger.

    • Toby

      January 4, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      You are probably a Bayern fan because only they would say this move was good for German football. Bayern buying the best players of their rivals is bad for the league, the other teams and will be bad for Bayern in the long run.

      Bayern’s transfers are the equivalent of Real Madrid buying Messi and Costa. This only happens in Germany because German only has one big club due to their financial rules that prevents other clubs challenging them financially. That is why it is bad for Bayern to be targeting the best players of rival German clubs because they do not have the money to buy better players to close that gap. It will just lead to the decline of German football outside of Bayern.

      When Man City first became rich they targeted players of the other top EPL teams. This caused a slight decline of English teams in the Champions League because they robbed English teams of their depth in talent. Man City stopped this policy of targeting rival teams players and now all the English teams have become stronger. EPL teams have money to improve Bundesliga teams don’t.

      Even the nationalistic Germans that post on the Guardian blogs will struggle to justify this as positive.

      This is move is good for EPL teams because it just makes the EPL rights worth even more as the most competitive top league in Europe. This means EPL teams will get even bigger TV deals and get more money to buy the best players. While Bundesliga teams will get less money in the future if it becomes a one team league and top players will shun the league because Bayern cannot buy everyone.

      • Michael Gyarten

        January 5, 2014 at 3:51 am

        Why are the PL fan boys fuming about? I guess its because Bayern beat Arsenal and Chelsea to Lewis signature. But the question is would the Bundesliga be the best if he had joined a PL team? This is jealousy at its highest. There is a say: if you cant beat them you join them. Watch out for us in the champs leaque. Bayern will tear Arsenal to shreads.

        • Toby

          January 5, 2014 at 5:34 am

          PL jealous of Bayern? They dream of being as big as popular and relevant as EPL teams around the world.

          People are criticising Bayern because they already have financial advantages over other German teams so targeting the best players of their rivals teams seems a move to make sure there is no competition for them and this isn’t sport.

          No team in Spain could buy all the best players in Spain. No team in England could buy the best players in England and No team in Italy could buy all the best players in Italy, because these country have many big teams. Bayern can do this in Germany and shows the German system is flawed because no team in Germany can challenge their dominance financially.

          The Bayern fans with their insular mentally might think this is a great thing, but this will hurt Bayern and German football in the long term, when top players no long want to play in Germany and the value of German TV rights loses value due to the lack of interest in German football internationally. People will not watch around the world to see Bayern beat Bundesliga teams 8-0 every week.

          • Michael Gyarten

            January 5, 2014 at 7:40 am

            So answer my question:would it have beenright if arsenal or chelsea signed him fromthe bundesliga? You say Pl team?hahaha you make me laugh. Which PL teamcan compare itselfto Bayern in terms of success?

          • Toby

            January 5, 2014 at 11:23 am

            @Micheal Gyarten

            Liverpool have won the same amount of European Cups as Bayern, has a better win ratio than Bayern and plays in a league with 5 teams that are bigger than Bayern in terms of global reach.

            It might seem good to you Bayern fans now, but what happens in two years when the best players shun German football and make the Spanish and English giants stronger? You have a league with one dominate team that can’t compete against the best due to the lack of competition.

          • Darksteel Doc

            January 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

            I’m a Bayern fan and I agree with this article. This move is damaging for the Bundesliga and German football. A one team league is bad. German football needs at least 2, preferably 3 or 4, top teams competing. The BVB vs Bayern rivalry could make the Bundesliga really popular and increase tv revenue. Also 2 or more top German clubs succeeding in European competition will also improve the Bundesliga appeal. I don’t think sugar-daddy clubs are the answer but the DFB needs to put things into place that will facilitate financial competitiveness in the league.

  8. Toby

    January 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Bayern have just killed German football. Bayern think they can be a global super club like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal with fans all over the world. But they do not understand that rivalries is what makes these clubs biggest in the world.

    German football and German culture just isn’t as popular around the world as English, Spanish and Italian football and culture, so Bayern will never be as popular as Man Utd, Liverpool, Real Madrid or Barcelona so it isn’t just about having a strong team. German football’s selling point was that it was competitive with at least two very strong teams. If it becomes a one team league interest in German football will collapse globally and this will hurt Bayern, because TV companies will not pay big bucks for a competition that is over by Christmas.

    It is the typical German insular attitude and not seeing the big picture. Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal could sell their TV rights individually and be ten times richer than Real Madrid or Barcelona. But they don’t because they see the bigger picture and will take less money and share this with smaller English teams, because competitive is important have for a successful league this is why the BPL is the biggest and most popular sports league in the world.

    Bundesliga RIP.

    • Arjun

      January 5, 2014 at 9:38 am

      Bayern have just killed the Bundesliga?

      Funny, I seem to remember that BVB won the title back to back just two years ago, and no one complained then. But god forbid Bayern start winning, then everyone just starts whinging and comes up with garbage like this. Lol you lot need to get over yourselves. Its obvious that not having talents like Gotze and Lewandowski at the precious Premier League obviously hurts you. But you should move on

      • Phichai

        January 10, 2015 at 7:58 pm

        3 years ago Dortmund deserved it….. so why would we complain?

      • sank

        September 27, 2015 at 2:50 am

        yeah bayern started winning back after buying talent within the league like gotze lewandowski .. you bough seven ulriech a good goalkeeper as a backup for manuel neuer .. with the likes of neuer ballack podolski gotze lewandowski and many others who swapped rivals for joining you is bad to the league ! and your tactics .. u made vidal join for free but went unsuccessful u made reus buyout clause public u made gundogan join for free dint succed their too ! this is what bayern is killing competition

  9. Borussia DortMan

    January 4, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I hate Bayern with every ounce of my blood! I applaud Klopp for taking a stand against München’s shady recruiting tactics. Dortmund will never concede the Bundesliga to any one, especially a team that buys its trophies. I trust Reus, Ilkay, and Hummels to stay loyal to yellow, while Shinji rejoins the team very shortly to regain the magic of the last few seasons.


  10. NP

    January 4, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Bayern have long been ruining the league by doing this and which is why many fans in germany hate bayern.
    I don’t understand why some players would go there if not guaranteed a starting spot. Will Lewondowski start for bayern if they play one up front?

  11. CassanovaFrankenstein

    January 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I hope so! Those Dortmund supporters are as fun as a bag of sh#t to the face. The less of them the better.

    • JJ

      January 4, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Your statement is quite foolish to me can you elaborate?

  12. JJ

    January 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Being half German I know this first hand. The league is a joke. I mean you support a team and might as well just hand over your best players to Bayern. Really hope someone gives them a proper thrashing in the Ucl. They have an aura of untouchability and act as if they are Bayern and can do whatever they want. BVB tool a stand with Lewandowski and all I can say is just that’s why our league will never be up there. As great as Bayern are doing now you need other teams in your league to foster Competevity in order to make the league attractive. Barca need Real Madrid. United need City Chelsea Arsenal Spurs Liverpool Everton Newcastle etc. You see what’s happened to the Scottish league now that Rangers are gone. People aren’t even showing up to games as much because they all know Celtic will win. This will continue Kartik because practically everybody in the DFB has a connection to Bayern Munich. The guys making up the rules are mostly Bayern men. I won’t take away their wins and victories because they have worked for them but quality players may not want to come to the Bundi because of that reason. Why would you want to to a place where your never gonna be challenged until you play the UEFA Champions League. As a Manchester United fan I think FFP is BS. That’s just a way to keep the likes of City Chelsea and Psg down. The more good teams there are the better it is for average football fan.

  13. Axel Wieczorek

    January 4, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    who cares?

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