Fact or Fiction? Bayern Munich and the European Super League

Whatever your opinion about Bayern Munich, what cannot be denied is that the Rekordmeister are anything but boring. This season we’ve already had a mini-crisis under Niko Kovac, reported dressing room discontent, that press conference, Rafinha’s highly offensive Halloween costume, and Lisa Müller’s Instagram rant.

However, the most explosive news emanating from around the Allianz Arena is surely the ‘Football Leaks’ story published in ‘der Spiegel’ magazine that Bayern bosses have been actively looking into the repercussions of joining a proposed European Super League.

Bayern President Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has moved to deny the story quicker than Mrs. Müller did when trying to backtrack on her criticism of Niko Kovac on her Instagram feed, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a potentially seismic shift is afoot within German and European football.

“I am confused about the coverage. The fact is, no European club has ever approached the topic of a Super League,” Kalle Rummenigge told Sky this weekend.

“We completely stand by our membership in the Bundesliga, as well as in UEFA and the European competitions they organise.  We have never questioned that. We will check this over the next few days with our lawyers. I can only say the whole article has a tabloid style, containing half-truths and untruths, which do not correspond to the facts.”

Well he would say that wouldn’t he?

According to the revelations exposed by ‘Football Leaks’, Bayern Munich tasked their chief legal counsel, Michael Gerlinger in 2016, with the job of discovering whether FCB would still be obliged to allow players to play for the German national team or whether national and international football associations could hold the club accountable for its withdrawal from competitions should they join a European Super League outside of the Bundesliga framework.

Two years may have passed, but other documents show that moves are still afoot for eleven of Europe’s most important teams to break away from UEFA and found a new elite league- the ‘European Super League’ to replace the Champions League by 2021.

The eleven founding teams would not be subject to relegation and would be guaranteed a place in the league for twenty years. An additional five clubs would be included as ‘initial guests,’ making the total number of teams in the new elite league sixteen. The document published by ‘Football Leaks’ gives Bayern as one of the ‘founders’ and Borussia Dortmund as one of the ‘initial guests.’

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While Bayern have completely denied the story, Borussia Dortmund Chief Executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has admitted that discussions are on-going.

“The fact that discussions are currently ongoing is clear, and I also believe that a few of Europe’s large clubs are clearly working on it” Watzke confessed. “Such plans are not very concrete yet.”

The question as to whether any such league would be alongside or instead of the Bundesliga is the major sticking point. “That is the firewall.  For as long as I carry responsibility around here, BVB will not leave the Bundesliga” Watzke stressed.

Beyond that, however, BVB has to “keep all its options open, because if a Super League ever became a reality, “that couldn’t happen without BVB.”

So Dortmund are neither in, nor out, but the fact remains that the prospect is very much on the horizon whereby Bayern Munich at least would extricate themselves from the Bundesliga to compete in a highly lucrative elite Super League.

‘Can of worms open….. Oh my god! Worms everywhere’ as Chandler Bing once said.

Where would that leave the record German champions should they join the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Manchester City and Paris St Germain in the establishment of a breakaway league?

German football traditionalists would be rightly horrified at any such move that took Bayern outside of the DFB/ DFL scope. There are also plenty of Bayern fans, who are also horrified by the prospect of the club extricating themselves from domestic German football.

Some FCB fans showed their desire to stay in Germany’s top flight during this weekend’s game at the Allianz Arena against Freiburg with one banner reading: “We stand for the Bundesliga – Super League without us.” Another banner in the Südtribune claimed: “Never again German champion FCB? No more honest titles.”

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UEFA have been fearing this for a while now and pandering to the ‘big clubs’ by allocating them more of the Champions League revenue at the expense of the ‘solidarity pot’ is one way they have tried to appease them. The tweaks made to the financial distribution model (running to 2021) now mean that some 30% of the estimated €535 million per season pot is given to clubs from the big four league (Spain, England, Italy and Germany) for success of their clubs over the past 10 years.

Money and greed seemingly make the football world go round, and although many clubs cited are issuing denials, it is very easy to imagine such a scenario coming to pass.

The Bundesliga without Bayern Munich? Or is this all just bluster and headline making based on very little?  Interesting times are ahead.

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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.

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