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Bayern Munich chasing commercial domination - Premier League take note

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Bayern Munich's summer foray to the United States is a pre-season jaunt that's become commonplace for Europe's top clubs over the last decade, but for the Bundesliga superpower it's a new adventure that in the long-term could help Germany's dominant club rival Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid for spending power and shirt sales across the planet.

Guardiola's star-studded squad have spent the last week in the US and their trip could not be more perfectly timed. German football is still basking in the glory of a World Cup success which featured seven Bayern players, including Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger and the final's goal-scoring hero Mario Gotze.

Right place, right time

The South American showpiece captured the imagination across the pond like never before, with Germany's 1-0 win over Argentina in the final watched by a record 26 million viewers on television in North America.

Bayern touched down in New York less than a month after soccer fever swept across large swathes of the US and are building the foundations to have a permanent presence in the Big Apple. The domestic double-winners are opening an office in Manhattan in February and have plans in place to do the same in Asia early next year.

Taking a bite out of the big apple

The Bavarian powerhouse has put Rudolf Vidal in charge of their US operation and the message they're trying to drive home is of a year-round presence for fans overseas, with a dedicated US store launched to match demand they will hope will be created by the exposure afforded by their appearance in the MLS All-Star Game, despite a 2-1 defeat in Portland last night.

Vidal made it clear in an interview with the New York Times that Bayern have a strategy and some big backers in their corner to make sure the venture is a success, including partners in Audi, who sponsored this summer's tour, Adidas and Allianz, all of which are shareholders in the club to the tune of 8.3% apiece.

"We knew when we came here, we had to do more than play one game and go home. We needed revenues in new markets and they wanted us to come to the United States first,” Vidal explained.

Bayern believe they can open the door to massive new commercial opportunities with this approach and have the added boost of a major new television deal for the Bundesliga to drive that agenda over the next five years.

Bundesliga going global

Last October the Bundesliga signed a long-term agreement with 21st Century Fox Sports that begins from the start of the 2015-16 season.

That deal means Bayern and Borussia Dortmund's exploits will finally be on shown every week in the United States, Mexico, Japan and close to 80 other countries in North America and Asia. Currently the Bundesliga earns around €70m per annum from overseas broadcast revenue, which is less than 10% of the Premier League's international rights value, worth a quite staggering £2.23bn over the next three years.

The Bundesliga has a much more balanced revenue mix than La Liga or the Premier League and are not heavily reliant on television income like their cousins from the across the continent, so imagine what Bayern and their bitter domestic rivals could achieve with extra money pouring in from elsewhere?

Signing up with Fox is finally a step in the right direction for the Bundesliga as it bids to close that cavernous gap, but a model which has been heralded across Europe as a shining example faces some difficult challenges as it bids to explore lucrative opportunities abroad.

Don't expect Bundesliga officials to drop its trousers to foreign markets and have teams playing at ridiculous hours like La Liga has done over the last two years for starters.

Why should Bayern bother?

Despite that massive difference in TV income Bayern have enjoyed huge success at home and abroad over the last five years and are valued by Forbes as the fourth richest football team in the world, worth a staggering €1,423m.

Only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United can boast a bigger net worth and yet Bayern have beaten all three in the Champions League at some point over the last two seasons, which begs the question why should Bayern concern themselves with expanding to foreign climbs?

Essentially Bayern are trying to maximize a window of opportunity that has been created by unprecedented success on the pitch, with Guardiola winning a domestic double in his debut campaign to follow the historic treble-winning efforts of the previous season under the leadership of Jupp Heynckes.

According to the latest Deloitte Football Money League report a whopping 55% of all Bayern's revenue comes from commercial streams though, which means if Bayern fans want the good times to keep rolling in the Champions League attracting new fans willing to spend money in other continents is absolutely essential.

Pragmatic approach opens door to world domination

There's no question that Bayern have adopted a more cosmopolitan attitude over the first half of the decade and accepted foreign talent can drive them to success on the continent, which has become a pressing priority thanks to relative domination of the Bundesliga that shows no sign of letting up anytime soon.

Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Javi Martinez and co. have arrived and forced disgraced former chief Uli Hoeness, who once said that Bayern don't get the same commitment from foreign stars who don't intend to stay for the rest of their lives, to eat his words.

In many ways Bayern have put the well-principled intentions of Arsenal and their model of self-sufficiency into action, making the 70,000 Allianz Arena a regular site of trophy parades rather than a drain on resources that hurts the team on the pitch.

With Bayern turning their attention to further afield there's every reason to think Madrid, Barca and United have a new rival in every sense of the word. Don't expect a Manchester City style foray into the world of MLS anytime soon, but Bayern's assault on the North American market is a clear indication that they are serious about keeping German football on the front foot and earning massive sums as a result.

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Topics:
MLS
Bayern Munich
Premier League
Manchester United
Football

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