With an all German Champions League Final and a national team to be envied, Germany is a country on the verge of becoming a real super power in the world of football. So how have the Germans done it?
One of the key factors, especially to the success of the national side, is the number of German players playing for German teams. The Premier League has been taken over by foreign players and managers in recent years ripping the 'soul, identity and heart' as Gary Neville stated, of so many clubs. Most notable of course are Queens Park Rangers who will play Championship football and Newcastle United who narrowly avoided the same fate. 20 in Rangers' squad were from outside the UK, Newcastle have 21.
In the Bundesliga things are quite different. At Bayern Munich, only 13 come from abroad, 7 of which come from countries that share a border with Germany; Borussia Dortmund have only 9 foreign players. So what have the Germans done differently? This strong home contingent brings me to my next point...
Fans. They are integral in motivating the home team, mocking the visitors and bringing an atmosphere to the game. It is argued that Germany have the best fans anywhere. Borussia Dortmund brought 40,000 fans to Madrid on before their Champions League Semi-Final. Only 10,000 of which had match tickets.
The fans seem to have a real connection with their respective clubs and this is in part due to the number of Germans in the squads. Games a very much family friendly meaning children can grow up with their local clubs, although there has been a steady increase in violence at football games of late. All 36 teams in the top two divisions agreed to a number of security measures.
This season, the Bundesliga attracted an average attendance of 42,253 this season. 35, 921 is the average in the Premier League. So why is there such a difference in attendance statistics? Yes the Bundesliga has a higher average stadium capacity, but in every game the stands seem full, as opposed to the Premier League where empty seats are too common place.
The price of match tickets is sure to have affected these attendance records. In the English Premier League a season ticket can cost up to £1,995 (Arsenal) at a cost of £102.90 per game at the start of the 2012/13 season with the cheapest coming at FA Cup winners, Wigan Athletic at £350 for a season. Meanwhile in Germany, 4 times European champions, Bayern Munich sell season tickets at only £104.
Bayern's club president, Uli Hoeness, said the following when asked about Bayern's low season ticket prices: "We could charge more than £104. Let's say we charged £300. We'd get £2 million more in income, but what's £2 million to us?
"In a transfer discussion you argue about that sum for five minutes. But the difference between £104 and £300 is huge for the fans. We do not think the fans are like cows, who you milk. Football has got to be for everybody. That's the biggest difference between us and England."
And what he says is true, if a little weirdly put. Owners in the English leagues are mainly foreigners, here to make a profit. All the owners of Bundesliga outfits are Germans. Bayern Munich's is a former player whilst Leverkuesen's chairman helped establish the Bundesliga. In the Premier League half the owners are British and the other half hail from such countries as the United Arab Emirates, America, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa and even Germany.
This half of foreign investors tend to have no idea about what the club means to people, blinded prehaps by the dollar signs in their eyes. Take Queens Park Rangers for example as mentioned earlier, a good, honest football club, gaining promotion to the Premier League using 'home-grown' players.
Soon after promotion, Bernie Ecclestone sold his share in the club, giving majority control to Malaysian, Tony Fernandes. Come 2012/13 QPR have been relegated, in the most part due to the huge sum of money spent in January which, as Gary Neville pointed out, 'ripped the heart and soul out of the club' This could not have been summed up any better than by QPR right-back, Jose Bosingwa, smiling away merrily mere seconds after his clubs relegation.
So English football take heed. The Germans have got it right and we need to follow suit to better our fantastic football heritage.
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