What does England’s plundering of the Bundesliga mean for the future?

Liverpool’s €41 million signing of Roberto Firmino has certainly grabbed the headlines this week as the Brazilian’s move set a new record for a transfer fee paid to a German club.

The accountants at Hoffenheim will be pleased, but does the financial clout of the English Premier League pose serious consequences for the Bundesliga?

The sale of Firmino to Liverpool is the biggest move to take place this summer so far, but if the transfer speculation is to be believed, he won’t be the last Bundesliga star to make his way to England.

The names of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ilkay Gundogan, Pierre-Emerik Aubameyang, Kevin De Bruyne and Mats Hummels have all been linked with a big-money move to the Premier League.

It’s not just the big teams being targeted. 1. FC Köln lost Kevin Wimmer to Tottenham, Hannover’s Joselu went to Stoke, Mainz sold striker Shinji Okazaki for €10 million to Leicester City, while Augsburg’s Baba Rahman is being tipped for a big-money move too.

It comes as no surprise that clubs from England are flexing their financial muscle when you look at the massive sums they will be gaining from the new TV deal they signed in February. From 2016 until 2019 the clubs will share around €3.2 billion per season, whereas Bundesliga in comparison will bring in around €835 million- just a quarter of the Premier League’s bounty.

Queens Park Rangers, who finished bottom of the Premier League last season amazingly received €35 million more in TV revenue than German champions Bayern Munich. A gap? A gulf? A chasm? Call it what you will, but there have to be consequences surely.

Panic

The DFL have already made it clear that they will not be able to match the English TV money, but that unpopular measures may have to be considered in order to at least compete.

“We find ourselves in a cut-throat competition of leagues” DFL CEO Christian Seifert said recently. “That’s why we need an honest discussion in the league. Are we facing the new TV contract ready, if necessary, to take unpopular measures to keep the best players in the world in the Bundesliga?”
Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs also believes the Bundesliga will have to get creative to compete. “There are ways and means to improve the financial situation. Whether it happens now with a Monday game, with 12 o’clock kick-offs, or the relocation of the Sportschau (on ARD) it needs to be discussed openly”.

Those changes won’t go down well with Bundesliga traditionalists and the group ProFans have already written an open letter to the DFL urging no further changes to kick-off times.

Don’t panic

Others though don’t see a reason to be unduly worried by the fact that the Premier League is able to outmuscle the Bundesliga financially. The Editor-in-chief of renowned sports magazine Kicker Jörg Jakob sees positives in the current situation.

“Sure, the Bundesliga is afraid that English clubs can come in and buy many of the best players. But on the other side the money can be used for player development and to improve training facilities,” he argued.

“It was always the case that the English clubs have had more money, certainly over the last ten to 15 years. But I don’t see any great threat.

“No English club has reached the Champions League final in the last few years – money doesn’t necessarily equal success,” Jakob concluded.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.