When it comes to transfer expenditures and TV revenue the Premier League is still light years ahead of its European competitors. Last season the clubs in England were handed a massive 2.8 billion Euros from their TV deal, whilst Germany’s elite clubs only received 1 billion Euros. Given that, it isn’t a surprise that the clubs in the Premiership could afford a transfer deficit of 723.3 million Euros, whereas the Bundesliga sides spent their money more modestly, only losing 170.4 million Euros during the summer transfer window.
Former RB Leipzig coach and sporting director Ralf Rangnick thinks that the Bundesliga needs to catch up to the Premier League if it wants to stay competitive in the future. The 61-year-old told kicker that conditions in terms of training facilities and staff were great, but he thinks that the difference in the two countries Pay TV cultures has led to an under-funding of the clubs in Germany.
“I’m always being told that it isn’t possible to sell as many Sky subscriptions as in England. But, I really can’t understand why it should be that way.”
Football for the masses in Germany
Right now football fans can enjoy watching highlight shows on free to air channels in Germany at 18:30 CET and 23:00 CET on Saturdays. On Sunday’s there are also highlight shows, broadcasting all you need to know about the matches for free. Furthermore, the opening matches of the Hinrunde and Rückrunde are also shown in full length on television in Germany.
Given the availability of Bundesliga action on free to air channels, it is not surprising that a total of 67% of Bundesliga fans in Germany aren’t willing to pay to watch the Bundesliga at home. Rangnick thinks that the league should consider taking steps to change that trend:
“We should discuss if a framework like in England, which means less football on free to air channels, could help increase the TV revenue considerably.”
A decrease in free to air Bundesliga highlight shows would certainly be an unpopular measure among fans in Germany, given that around 75% of Bundesliga fans watch the action on the pitch from their homes. On the other hand, Rangnick has some sympathy for fans who point out that ticket prices are getting too expensive, telling kicker:
“The revenue coming from the match day attendance is a decreasingly small part of a Bundesliga side’s total budget. Therefore, I think that the clubs should watch out and make sure that not only people with a lot of money can afford to watch a football match, otherwise we’d be going in the wrong direction.”
Youth work – The Bundesliga’s saving grace
Given that the changes Rangnick is yearning for aren’t easily made, it stands to reason that the gap in revenue isn’t going to be closed any time soon. Rangnick himself thinks that the Bundesliga only has one viable option in order to stay competitive:
“As long as things aren’t going to change, it won’t be possible for German clubs to get anywhere close to the top sides in England. We have to try to use our first class youth work and the development of really good coaches as our bargaining chip.”
The Bundesliga currently has the most coaches who have learned their trade in youth academies of all top leagues in Europe. Rangnick thinks that this development has helped the league:
“That development has led to coaches using more young players, because they know just how good these guys are. And therefore we see more U21 players in Bundesliga starting line-ups compared to England, Spain, France and Italy.”
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