Bundesliga's economic strength keeps growing

AP News
Posted: Jan 26, 2017 4:39 PM
Bundesliga's economic strength keeps growing

BERLIN (AP) — The Bundesliga's economic strength keeps on growing.

The 18 teams in Germany's top division broke the 3 billion euro mark in revenue for the first time last season. Total revenue for 2015-16 was 3.24 billion euros ($3.48 billion), up 23.7 percent on the season before, with 13 of those clubs each posting more than 100 million euros ($107 million).

"That's a pretty good number," said Bundesliga chief executive Christian Seifert, who presented the annual Bundesliga report in Frankfurt on Thursday.

"In relation to the money the Bundesliga generated, we are very satisfied with the performance in Germany (but) we are not yet satisfied with the performance on a European level," Seifert said of the 12th straight season of record turnover.

Seifert said in a telephone interview that "we're still the number two league turnover wise" behind the English Premier League, adding that "we are the number six in terms of turnover of all professional sports leagues in the world."

Having young and talented players - the next big stars - was key to the league's attractiveness, Seifert said, while established foreign players like Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez of Mexico, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Charles Aranguiz of Chile were boosting its appeal abroad.

Germany's second division is also doing well, posting revenue of 608.3 million euros ($653.6 million), up 20.6 percent from the previous season.

The 18 top division clubs made 206.2 million euros in profit, the league's best-ever result. Like the season before, 34 of the 36 clubs in both divisions were profitable.

The figures show that Bundesliga clubs spend less than one third of revenue on salaries - half the average across the major European leagues.

There was only a small increase in match-day revenue from ticket sales as clubs opt to keep prices low. Seifert gave the example of Borussia Dortmund, which has sellout crowds of more than 80,000 for Bundesliga games at Westfalenstadion.

"Of course Borussia Dortmund could increase the price of their tickets but they don't do it. Although we have this policy with our clubs, we were still able to gain over 3 billion euros overall," he said.

German clubs also profited indirectly from the Premier League's new TV deal, leading to inflated transfer fees.

Transfer income was up some 300 million euros on the year before with 532 million euros accounting for more than 16 percent of revenue. Five transfers alone accounted for more than 180 million euros.

"A really impressive number," Seifert said. "We cannot ignore transfer income any more."

Powerhouse Bayern Munich overshadows the rest of the league with a record turnover of 627 million euros in 2015-16, well ahead of Dortmund on almost 377 million. Darmstadt was the smallest in the top flight with turnover of 41.5 million euros.

Bayern's dominance - the club is on course to win an unprecedented fifth straight Bundesliga - is not yet a worry for the league, despite concerns from abroad that it may be getting uncompetitive.

"From today's perspective, it's not yet a problem because in Borussia Dortmund we have a very interesting club, high-profile, that plays fascinating football in a great atmosphere," Seifert said.

"If Bayern Munich wins the title 10 or 15 times in a row then it will become a problem but we are not yet in this situation. I think that all other Bundesliga clubs know that they will be able to compete with Bayern Munich, but this is not something the league can influence directly. We can see that there's a need to invest money in a good way."

The Bundesliga leads the major European leagues in goals scored with an average of 2.9 goals per game since the beginning of the 2013-14 season.