Sammer vs. Klopp and a Look at the Bundesliga’s Financial Situation

How can Bayern be this dominant for the second season in a row? That is the question many Bundesliga followers have been asking themselves for quite some time now. The record champions are leading the league by a comfortable 20 point margin after 24 match days and are undefeated in their last 49 efforts. Bayern are on course to break multiple records, and the Bundesliga’s other 17 clubs haven’t found a recipe to stop them it seems.

Bayern’s executive of sports, Matthias Sammer, tried to provide an explanation when he was asked by Sport1 about Bayern’s dominance:

Maybe we are superior in terms of quality, but also in terms of mentality as well. This might be a message to the outside: Is there any place where the training is conducted this meticulously, like there is no tomorrow?

These comments didn’t sit well with Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. After being asked about them during a press conference, Klopp responded calmly:

I find it important to acknowledge one’s own luck in life. If I was Matthias Sammer I’d thank god every day before entering the Bayern premises, because somebody had the idea to include me.

However, Dortmund’s coach went onto criticise Sammer’s comments regarding the training methods of other Bundesliga teams and added:

I don’t believe that Bayern would have had even a single point less in the standings if Matthias Sammer wasn’t there.

Bayern paying more per point and goal

Blaming Dortmund’s training methods or talking about whether or not one should thank higher powers for being employed by Bayern München amounts to pure speculation if one is on the outside. However, it is always possible to take a look at the numbers and finances in order to find a way of putting them into a system which provides some insight.

Last season the German edition of the Wall Street Journal took a look at how much money the teams in the Bundesliga were spending on wages and how much they paid per point gathered and goal scored on average after 17 matches had been played. Back then, Bayern were outspending the rest of their rivals by a considerable margin. If one takes a look at this season money table one can see that nothing much has changed. Bayern München are still spending more than anybody else per point gathered and per goal.

Club Position in the table Points Goals Player wages 2013/14 Wages per point ratio Wages per point table Wages to goals ratio Wages to goals ratio table
FC Augsburg 6 38 37 17m € 0,45m € 1 0,46m € 1
1. FSV Mainz 7 38 33 24m € 0,63m € 2 0,73m € 4
Hertha BSC 9 36 35 23m € 0,64m € 3 0,66m € 3
SC Freiburg 17 19 22 16.1m € 0,85m € 4 0,73m € 4
Eintracht Braunschweig 18 17 19 15m € 0,88m € 5 0,79m € 6
Borussia Mönchengladbach 8 36 41 34.5m € 0.96m € 6 0,84m € 7
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 10 29 52 30m € 1,03m € 7 0,58m € 2
1. FC Nürnberg 14 23 27 24m € 1,04m € 8 0,89m € 8
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3 44 40 48m € 1,09m € 9 1,2m€ 13
Eintracht Frankfurt 13 26 27 30m € 1,15m € 10 1,11m€ 12
Werder Bremen 11 28 28 35m € 1,25m € 11 1,25m € 16
Hannover 96 12 26 31 33m € 1,27m € 12 1,06m € 11
VfL Wolfsburg 5 39 41 50m € 1,28m € 13 1,22m € 14
Borussia Dortmund 2 48 55 68m € 1,42m € 14 1,24m € 15
Schalke 04 4 44 46 80m € 1,82m€ 15 1,74m € 17
Hamburger SV 16 20 38 40m € 2m € 16 1,03m € 9
VfB Stuttgart 15 20 38 40m€ 2m € 17 1,05m € 10
FC Bayern München 1 68 72 140m € 2,06m € 18 1,94m € 18

A cursory glance at the table might give the impression that none of the four Champions League contenders are getting their money’s worth at the moment. However, one should keep in mind that the teams in question have a higher income due to their participation in the Champions League and that they are typically competing in three competitions at the same time, which sets higher standards in terms of squad depth and in terms of the quality of the players.

However, the table clearly shows that Bayern have a massive financial advantage over the competitors. Even if Bayern took twice as many points as Dortmund, BVB would have still spent less money per point gathered. Furthermore, provided Bayern establishes a new record by scoring 102 goals within a season they would have still spent more than anybody else in the league per goal scored provided Schalke manages to score 14 more goals in their last 10 outings.

Given the discrepancy between what Bayern are able to pay their players compared with their main rivals, the total dominance of the Bavarians is less surprising. Furthermore, one might even be tempted to turn the question on its head and ask: What has taken them so long to become this dominant? If a Bundesliga season is like a round of Texas Hold ‘Em, then Bayern have been dealt pocket aces and their rivals start with a 2 and 7 (unsuited) on their hands.

That being said, it is still possible to win a round of Texas Hold ‘Em even if one starts with a 2 and a 7. It’s up to the other clubs to find out how they can accomplish just that. Furthermore, Bayern’s financial muscle is a result of goal-oriented work which has been going for a long time. It’s now up to the other clubs to find out how they can close that gap. Dortmund reaching the last 8 of the Champions League for the second year running is certainly going to allow them to close the gap somewhat, but not by much.

Spending more on the transfer market

Mainz’s general manager Thomas Heidel seems to think that Bayern’s advantage primarily lies on the transfer market, not in their superior training methods. Heidel told Bild:

If we had the chance to spend 130 million Euros on new players in the space of two years we’d win the championship without any advice from Matthias Sammer.

Heidel’s point is well taken. If the numbers of are to believed, Bayern have in the last two seasons ran up a transfer deficit of roughly 90 million Euros, whilst Dortmund  and Bayer Leverkusen have managed to make a small profit on the transfer market in the same amount of time. Schalke have roughly spent 18 million Euros more than they have taken in during the last two seasons.

Good scouting methods and youth work can make up for a monetary disadvantage, but the question remains whether or not Bayern’s superiority can’t be breeched due to their financial flexibility, their excellent youth work and their ability to outspend the rest of the league by a considerable margin. At the moment Bayern are spending their money well, which is seemingly leaving little chance to anybody else.

Augsburg and Mainz overachieving

Matthias Sammer’s comment about Bayern working harder than anybody else did certainly annoy several of his colleagues. The aforementioned Heidel has, together with Thomas Tuchel, managed to establish a team in the Bundesliga which has managed to finish in mid-table, sometimes even above, season after season. This season Mainz have spent 1.43 million Euros less per point gathered compared to Bayern. Moreover, the Reds’ Bavarian neighbours FC Augsburg have even spent a staggering 1.61 million Euros less per point gathered.

These numbers put both Mainz’s 7th place and Augsburg’s 6th place into a context which suggests that both have done a lot of hard work and that the mentality at both clubs has laid the foundation for their success. Heidel in particular has been a key factor in building this Mainz side, having put in a lot of work over the last few years. The 50-year-old famously developed a concept to get Mainz to the Bundesliga during a training camp in Cyprus in his hotel room, whilst Mainz were stuck in the battle against relegation in the Bundesliga 2. His comments are understandable given how Matthias Sammer has only worked at Bayern for 1 and a half years, benefitting from the work which had been going on over multiple decades before he arrived.

Stuttgart, HSV and Schalke getting less for their money

There are only a handful of clubs that are even close in spending as much money per point gathered as Bayern München. Both HSV and VfB Stuttgart are spending 2 million Euros per point, which is far above the amount of money spent by the teams around them in the table. Bayern is leading those sides by 52 points, but still spends 60,000 Euros more per point than these two clubs.

Fourth place Schalke are also seemingly getting less for the money than the other two teams chasing Bayern. Bayer Leverkusen are on the same amount of points, but have spent 730,000 Euros less per point gathered, whilst Dortmund have spent 400,000 Euros less per point gathered compared to Die Knappen.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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