A Love Affair with the Bundesliga (Part II)

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Bundesliga: Highest Average Attendance || Lowest ticket prices

The Barclays Premier League has often been labelled the “best league in the world”, take the top sides of England, add the two Spanish giants, and a couple of Italians still clinging onto their past title of “European Giants”, and you have football through the perspective of a short sighted fan.

It is not often that you get an ardent follower of the Bundesliga outside of Germany. Their global reach is not as convincing as the ‘Big Three’ leagues. Success in the Champions League is a contributing factor to such a judgement. But there is reason to believe that the above mentioned  aren’t the best in the world, that the Bundesliga forms the principle of “Best in the World” better than any other league.

In the first part we took a look at the financial structure and records http://ootbfootball.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/a-love-affair-with-the-bundesliga-part-one/

We will now look at different aspects of the modern game to see where the Bundesliga stands, and why it could be, the best in the world (on paper atleast).

Stadium Attendance

Atmosphere generated by the fans can play a big role in determining the results of games. Every player performs that much better, and goes that extra step when the fans sing and chant his name. Its a natural tendency of players to respond to the passion displayed by the supporters.

Dortmund’s passionate support at Signal Iduna Park

The atmosphere in Bundesliga stadiums is beautiful week in and week out. Whether that be at the home of the league leaders, or that of ones fighting for survival.

The German Bundesliga has broken attendance records season after season. Taking into consideration all professional sports leagues in the world, the NFL (American Football) has the highest average attendance, by quite some distance. But that of course is a different format and includes the mega sporting event, the Super Bowl.

The Bundesliga has the second highest average attendance for any professional sports league in the world, and highest for a professional football league. 45,116 was the average number of supporters per game in the Bundesliga for the 2011/12 season. To put that into perspective, the average attendance of the 18 Bundesliga teams for the 2011/12 season is more than the entire capacity of the home of the European Champions Chelsea FC.

(NOTE: This is data for the 2011/12 season)

As the above data shows, the Bundesliga has a significant upper hand in terms of average attendance.

The Bundesliga has huge capacity stadiums. In the current 2012/13 season, 16 out of the 18 Bundesliga sides have a stadium with maximum capacity of 30,000 or more. So only 2 fall below that mark. Compare that to the Premier League, and there are 8 teams out of the 20 that have stadiums below the capacity of 30,000.

The German league has obviously benefited from hosting the 2006 World Cup. Some of the stadiums were renovated for the mega sporting event but this renovation didn’t involve much changes in capacity. Many of the stadiums were already capable of accommodating huge crowds. Fortunda Dusseldorf’s LTU Arena (now known as Esprit Arena due to naming rights change) was not selected as a venue despite having a capacity of over 50,000. Getting a maximum capacity is important to fully utilise  a stadium with huge capacity.

NOTE: This is data for the 2011/12 season
(Source: ESPN Soccernet)

As you can see from the data given above, Dortmund has the highest average attendance for any professional football club in the world. What is more telling though is the fact that out of the 10 teams with the highest average attendance, 6 of those clubs are from the Bundesliga (marked in graph). Its no surprise then that the atmosphere in the stadiums is electrifying. There is encouragement for the fans to go to the stadiums and play as big a part as possible.

Schalke fans at their 60,000+ capacity stadium Veltins-Arena

Loud chants, traditional songs, synchronised moves, bouncing fans, banners, flags, flares and more, has made the fan culture impressive and has forced the footballing world to stop and take notice.

Ticket Prices

So we’ve seen in the previous part the financial stability of the Bundesliga model, we’ve seen how it is the most efficient in terms of revenue and we’ve seen here how the Bundesliga is dominating the footballing world with its attendance records. Now another remarkable fact about the Bundesliga is its unbelievably low ticket prices, that puts the rest of Europe to shame. Fans are guaranteed value for money.

Bundesliga takes initiatives to treat their loyal fans with respect. They are not seen as customers, but as we spoke about in the last part, they are owners as well. And they deserve to be treated accordingly. Ensuring affordable ticket prices is a good gesture from the club towards the fans.

Home support at Werder Bremen’s Weserstadion

Moreover, there are attempts to limit season tickets so that more number of fans get to go to matches. The tickets also work as transport tickets ensuring that fans get to the stadium without any extra cost.

The lowest basic season ticket price at the Signal Iduna Park (home of German champions Dortmund) will cost €187. No club in the entire Premier League, from Manchester United to Fulham to Norwich have a price that low.

The average basic season ticket in the Bundesliga is €170, in the Premier League it is €577.

The Premier League has seen a tremendous rise in prices, with a season ticket at the Emirates going as high as €2400. With an individual ticket costing as much as €155. It would cost a fortune for an Arsenal fan coming from out of the country to watch a game at the Emirates.

At Dortmund the most expensive individual ticket is €50. Dortmund also has the most expensive season ticket, at €845. Half the Premier League has tickets more expensive than that including Queens Park Rangers who have a capacity of less than 18,000 and struggled with relegation last season and continue to do so. Even newly promoted West Ham United have more expensive tickets than the most expensive ones in the Bundesliga.

Last season’s Champions League runners up Bayern Munich offer season tickets starting from €300 going upto only €650. No club in the entire Premier League offer prices lower than that cheapest season ticket at the Allianz Arena. All newly promoted sides in the Premier League have more expensive tickets.

A further look into English football throws up some more figures. 7 clubs in the Npower Championship (2nd division of England) have basic season tickets (i.e. the cheapest available) of nearly €500. No club in the entire Bundesliga have basic season tickets that expensive.

We can get a further bit of perspective if we go deeper into English football. BBC conducted their Price of Football survey. Take Southend United, currently in League Two (and have been for sometime) play at Roots Hall, capacity of just over 12,000. The cheapest season ticket available is €430. That is some €250-€300 more than watching football at the home of the German champions, or even the Champions League runners-up (and host stadium).

It would be more expensive to watch a football game at Roots Hall (left) than at Allianz Arena (right)

To sum up the ticket prices, the lowest basic season ticket available in the Premier League is €315, in the Bundesliga it is €120. The most expensive season ticket in the Premier League is €2400, in the Bundesliga it is €845.

The average basic season ticket price for a Bundesliga team in the Champions League (including Monchengladbach) is €168. The average basic season ticket price for a Premier League side in the Champions League is €737.

Recently Dortmund fans protested against a price hike for a match against Hamburg, where the cheapest available ticket was €40. Every Premier League clubs’ highest ticket price is more than that amount, moreover more than half the Npower Championship clubs have ticket prices more expensive.

“No 20 Euros for a ticket”

The numbers are telling, the Bundesliga offers a better atmosphere, match day experience, free transport at a cheaper price when compared to the Premier League. The top sides of the Bundesliga with capacity stadiums of over 50,000 offer cheaper prices than Premier League sides with capacity’s of 20,000. And an often dull atmosphere.

These figures have prompted experts to state that the Premier League sees its fans as customers, while the Bundesliga sees them as supporters.

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There is no doubt that these factors will benefit the Bundesliga with the footballing economy in a precarious position, and threatening to get far worse before there are any signs of it getting better. Regular loyal and passionate support is vital for the success of a football club. Its crucial that clubs take care of their supporters and treat them with the respect they deserve.

Update: I have been pointed out by some readers, including Zadig on here, that the Dortmund fans are actually protesting against paying €20 for a “standing place”.

Here is part one of this series: http://ootbfootball.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/a-love-affair-with-the-bundesliga-part-one/


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Special mention to BBC’s Price of Football Survey and blog.uebersteiger.de for the ticket prices

Charts made at iChart

Picture credits: Bundesliga.theoffside.com; goal.com, debatefootball.com, ciderspace.co.uk, baviere-quebec.org

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  • Arjun Narayanan

    Very thorough research work on your part. Great read, extremely informative!

    • http://ootbfootball.wordpress.com/ Sami Faizullah

      Thank you:) Hope it helped:)

  • zadig

    “Kein zwanni für nen steher” means specifically, “no twenty (euro bill) for a standing place (in the terrace)”. Good article my friend, I enjoyed it :-)

  • http://ootbfootball.wordpress.com/ Sami Faizullah

    Thanks for that mate. My German is VERY poor, and google translate didn’t help me much. Thanks alot:)

    • Michael

      It’s hard to translate, because it’s not “real” german, but slang. The real german sentence would be “Wir zahlen keine 20€ für einen Stehplatz”, shortened to “Keine 20€ für einen Stehplatz”. The slang for a 20€ bill is Zwanni (“Zwanziger” twenty) and Steher is short for Stehplatz, but not universal in germany. Sounds like it’s a word from the Ruhrpott.

      • http://ootbfootball.wordpress.com/ Sami Faizullah

        Yea. Thats what i got from what i read and others have said. Should not that their complaint wasn’t against any ticket but specifically for a standing one.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=613496446 Jody Strauch

    A U.S. Schalke fan here and making my first trip to the Veltins in May. I’m pumped! Great info. Thanks!

    • samiOOTB

      Thanks for the feedback Jody:) Have fun in Gelsenkirchen:)

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  • Anurag Sethi

    Nice work, good in depth analysis Sami.