The following is Part 1 of a series about the Bundesliga’s immersion into the US sports scene, the successes and the failures in the league’s obvious attempts to create a strong presence in North America.
There’s no doubt that the Bundesliga is trying to grow awareness in the United States, along with China and India, and indeed the world outside of the borders of Germany. While league revenues continue to annually set records and the great majority of clubs operate in the black, the Bundesliga’s great ability to derive revenue inside of Germany means that they must look outward to continue experiencing revenue growth and stay competitive with the EPL, La Liga and the other great domestic leagues in the world.
One of the ways in which the Bundesliga lagged behind other leagues in breaking into the US market, especially the EPL, has been the lack of availability of Bundesliga club kit. Outside of the availability of anything Bayern Munich, most other clubs have been distinctly underrepresented in jersey sales in the US market, mainly because they were not available to buyers.
That situation, though, has changed in recent years, slowly, perhaps too slowly for we impatient fans, but indeed it is changing. The latest club to establish availability of club kit, along with accessories, is Borussia Mönchengladbach. The five-time Bundesliga champions have announced that the US-based Soccer Ventures, a California-based company, will run a Gladbach store for the Americas, similar to the Schalke 04 store already run by the company for fans in the Western Hemisphere by Matthew Gleason.
So while the availability of Bundesliga club kit still isn’t what it could be, this is a major step forward. With Schalke and Gladbach gear available from Soccer Ventures, and club kit of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Eintracht Frankfurt and now Hertha Berlin available from Columbia, Missouri based online retailer SoccerPro.com, there are now seven top division German clubs that have club kit for sale through American companies for fans, avoiding longer overseas shipping time and higher costs. Additionally, Bayern Munich USA operates a North American fan shop on its website, making all sorts of FCB kit and accessories available. And we are happy to say that the Bundesliga Fanatic has worked with all these entities in getting their name and product create product/brand awareness in North America. World Soccer Shop, operating out of Birminghan, Alabama, is another retailer that offers kit from all the afore-mentioned clubs but also by clubs whose kit manufacturer isn’t well known in the US market — JAKO ((Bayer Leverkusen), Lotto (Mainz) and Macron (1860 Munich).
While the situation isn’t perfect, it certainly is an improvement in the period of time since the Fanatic was launched at the beginning of the 2010/2011. What is happening is that individual Bundesliga clubs are doing more and more real work to make this happen, and it is work because of varying business/legal restrictions created by kit licensees.
It is important that the league and its clubs have an actual street presence here — I am sure I am not the only fan who notices what club kit is being worn from clubs all over the world in the United States, and it certainly is time for the Bundesliga to have the street presence of clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and other big clubs whose jerseys are seen being worn by supporters in many contexts and places — at the store, at a bar, at sporting events and in schools. Football is tribal, and the Bundesliga needs to be a tribe in the vast but crowded American sports scene. Selling kit is a win/win for clubs, because not only is it a revenue stream but also works to promote the club’s brand.
Gladbach Press Release
Borussia Mönchengladbach, one of the most famous soccer teams in all of Germany, has partnered with US based Soccer Ventures for their North & South American merchandise distribution.
Another step towards Borussia Mönchengladbach´s process of internationalization is complete after the club opened an online store for fans in North & South America. Fans of “the foals” – the club´s nickname dates back to the Seventies but it is still related to the philosophy of educating and developing young talents – can now get their hands on club merchandise at BorussiaStore.com
Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers is excited about the new development: “This project is another step in our long-term plan of globalization. North & South America are extremely important markets for us as we see so much potential for future growth and expansion. We couldn’t be happier that our fans within the region will now be able to access merchandise quickly and easily!”
Borussia Mönchengladbach will be supported by Soccer Ventures for online-store operations. Owner Matthew Gleason is spearheading the project from the US. “Borussia Mönchengladbach has such a storied history and their recent success has put them on the map globally – I’m really excited to partner with their in-house team on offering fans the best shopping experience possible.” The distribution center for the Gladbach fan merchandise will be in Carlsbad, CA.
As well as opening an online store, the Foals are planning to set up soccer camps in the Americas and furthermore a US Tour of the club´s first team is in the making.
Borussia Mönchengladbach competes within the Bundesliga and has reached the round of the last 32 in the UEFA Europa League. Team USA Player of the Year Fabian Johnson is a Gladbach mid-fielder.