Money woes

So far this season, the following clubs look to be in administration or financial problems:
Alemmania Aachen, VfB Lübeck, FC Oberneuland, MSV Duisburg, Kickers Offenbach and Wuppertaler SV. WSV has of course asked for official insolvency (it’s not granted automatically, you apply and the court-appointed administrator has to show that it’s a viable option. In WSV’s case, that looks to be the case, so it all points to starting over debt-free in the Oberliga).

Duisburg and Offenbach were denied an operating license for their current division and still could appeal. The last I heard was that Offenbach will apparently accept the verdict and go down. Meanwhile, although Duisburg is going to the standing court, Sandhausen, the team that would thus be saved is said to be “planning for the 2.Liga”.

Every year there are teams on the bubble, such as VfR Aalen in the 2.Liga, but in general they get their act together and receive their operating license. Several Bundesliga clubs are heavily in debt, (my guess the worst is Schalke), but I haven’t seen any reports that any haven’t come up with viable financial plans. Given the increasing clout of the top division, any club surviving there is probably in pretty good shape. It’s the lower divisions that are suffering a lot more, but that’s to be expected. The Bundesliga has become all powerful; the attendance and financial boom is not replicated at the lower levels.

Most of the suggestions (e.g. sharing more TV revenue) are pretty unrealistic. Folks want to watch the Bundesliga, but highlights suffice for the lower divisions. And similar to England, in Germany the DFL (EPL) runs the 1/2 divisions, the DFB (FA) the lower
ranks. There is little incentive for the DFL clubs to give up the cash. Attendance at the lower divisions needs to be boosted, but it’s not clear how to do it. One idea might be to do what is done in American football, e.g. Fridays are essentially High School, Saturdays College and Sundays the NFL. It’s not unusual for someone to go to three matches over the weekend. Not sure how that would work in Germany though…

Still, compared with most other European leagues, the finances of German clubs are much sounder.

9 thoughts on “Money woes

  1. This has touched on a subject I do find strange here in Germany, the lack of support clubs outside of the Bundesliga recieve. To show some examples, Bochum draw a full house in the 1. Liga, but as soon as they were relegated their first home game in the 2. Liga drew only 8,000 (and at this time they were one of the favourites to be promoted), some 20,000 short of capacity. Clubs like Fürth and FSV Frankfurt have not increased their average gates at all (Fürth hovered around the 7,500 mark anf FSV are happy if 4,000 show up!) despite being in the 2. Liga for a while. Only larger teams, like Kaiserlautern of Köln, continue to draw big crowds outside of the 1. Liga.

    Compare this with England, the average gate in the lower leagues is higher that that in Germany. There are League 2 (4th level) clubs that have higher averages than some 2. Liga clubs.

    For the Regionalliga and lower, smaller crowds of the low thousands and hundreds should be expected, but the crowds in the 2. and 3. Ligas are poor.

    It is nice that the schedual for the top three leagues are spread otu so they do not clash, but the 2. Liga is spread all over the place, and at in my mind, not so fan friendly times, and the 3. Liga probably kicks off too early as well. Perhaps having all games kick off at 15.30 on Saturday would help (Except those for TV of course) or playing them on seperate days.

    One thing I do think effects crowds however is the promotion sitiuation. With the ‘relegation’ play off now, it has become much more difficult to be promoted, with only 2 sure to go up from the 2. and 3. Ligas. The situation now in the Regionalliga is, in my view, stupid as the champions are now not sure they will go up and below thr Regionalligas it is normally nly the champions that do go up. That means fans very quickly see that their side will not be challenging at the top so lose interest and stop going, especially if there is a much more powerful club in the league that year (see the Oberliga Niederrhein this year for an example). Making it a bit easier to achieve promotion would possibly help attendances, and there is more to play for over the season. (Again, in England, the playoffs have 4 teams, meaning that with a good run at the end of the season, teams stuck in mid table could still have a run at promotion. Playoffs in England are found all the way down the pyramid, meaning that a club can quite quickly climb the leagues)

    • Well I think England has better attendance for a variety of historical reasons, as they’ve had a true professional structure for quite a long time. (Aside from constantly renaming their divisions, they’ve basically remained in the 4 level league). In Germany, I think it’s also important to remember that 90% of the clubs are not exclusively football clubs, but multi-sport entities that were created for local participation. Although some are quite good, for example Werder Bremen chess division is very strong, or Bayern Munchen basketball. So football was just another division, albeit the most important. In England I think most clubs for a very long time have been concerned about operating as a football club.

      The disparity in 2.Liga attendance isn’t too hard to explain either. Clubs like FSV Frankfurt may be doing the best ever, but in fact they’ve always been a small team, so they have virtually no fan base. Everyone in an around Frankfurt supports Eintracht when it comes to football, so unless you live in the Bornheim neighborhood or are somehow otherwise associated with FSV, you’re really not interested that much. When I lived in Wuppertal, we used to watch ASV locally – and play on their field on off days – because it was the local-local club, and just about everybody at the game was from the neighborhood, rarely outsiders. I would have to take the bus/train/schwebebahn to get to WSV, on the other side of town. But WSV was the big club, so we’d go.

      As for clubs like Greuther Furth, it’s a bit harder to explain, but I think they had sucked for so long nobody cared, and Nurnberg is close by. Teams that have gone down and had massive attendance, like Koln, Kaiserslautern and Hertha are basically big-time clubs who belong in the Bundesliga and have the big fan base – struggling because their management sucked. Clubs like Bochum or Duisburg have a small core fanbase, and when they’re up, draw larger crowds from the area – but there’s plenty of competition for the fan “euro” in the area, so you’d better not be sucking.

      I had never thought about the playoff issue, but that’s an excellent point. The english way is better. The champs (and 2nd and maybe 3rd depending on league) get an auto promotion, and I think if there is to be playoffs, it should be like in England, amongst the runners up. That way you could still have some “money” and a great deal of fairness.

      • In addition to all that most English teams date from the 19th century or at least very early in the 20th century. In contrast many German teams are the result of frequent amalgamations. As has been said, the leagues in England are very stable – 4 divisions since 1921 while in Germany football has been in a state of constant flux since the Nazi era and a national league created at a very late date by European standards.

  2. OFC didn’t get their licence, it’s final by now. That means they go down to Regionalliga South-West and SV98 stays in Liga 3. Regarding Duisburg: no final result yet.

    • Well, serves them right. Offenbach has a way of always doing it the wrong way, and once again they get called on the carpet. Too bad for their fans, but I guess they’re used to it. Good news I suppose for Darmstadt, even though they don’t really deserve to stay up on that basis, but sometimes you get a break; let’s see what they do with it.

      • Well, I guess we’ll take it then. The writing for relegation was on the wall all season and only after they got their third coach did they start to do any good. The new bloke (Dirk Schuster) appears to have done ok and they won the Hessen Pokal so they may actually surprise next year.

        Mixed blessing I guess. Don’t deserve it, but due to an administrative error we’re back in. No bragging rights there, just a gentle sigh of relief.

    • Official now: Duisburg has been denied the license for 2. Liga, so they’ll apply for Liga 3 now. Sandhausen will stay in Liga 2.
      Imho DFL should reduce the leagues for the forthcoming season in such cases accordingly and not support clubs which weren’t competitive enough before.

      • Too bad for Duisburg. Does make the 3.Liga more attractive I suppose.

        It’s unfortunate that Sandhausen (or Darmstadt in 3.Liga) survive because someone else doesn’t get a license. I think it would be hard for the DFL to drop the number of spots, because it would cut income from attendance for all clubs, as it’s two less games. Of course, I’m sure the other clubs (and fans) would prefer to see Duisburg rather than Sandhausen…that percentage of gate from the trip to Sandhausen probably barely covers the travel costs :)

  3. Spot-on analysis on the dual organizations running the 1/2 Liga and the rest of the German soccer pyramid by the DFB. Having lived in the Kaiserslautern area for about 10 years, I usually go to the 1FCK games, but on occasion head to Homburg, Saarbrucken and Trier to watch matches. It would be extremely helpful for the lower divisions to play on Friday/Saturday with a Regionaliga game on Monday night for greater exposure of the small clubs plus TV money. Not really sure why the 1 Liga doesn’t play all it games on Sunday with the 2nd Liga having a Saturday night game to be televised. I think this would aid the entire structure, but then I’m the eternal optimist as a FCK fan.

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