German football on the rise
Published: 31.10.12 / Written by: David Gold
In a sea of debt, Germany is bucking the trend.
Not the European Union, well yes actually – in the European Union, Germany is seemingly the country keeping the rest of the continent afloat financially. But also in the world of football. Serie A has plunged amid its debts. Juventus are doing well but them aside, the traditional elite are struggling. Inter Milan and AC Milan have both embarked on dramatic cost cutting exercises to keep themselves solvent, but neither are particularly competitive domestically, let alone in Europe.
The Premier League, whose leading teams have played such a prominent role in the Champions League in recent years, is now struggling somewhat. Its teams look less competitive. Their champions, in a group against the champions of the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, are bottom and looking likely to exit the competition early. Manchester City and Chelsea are burdened by huge debts and UEFA’s financial fair play. United are weighed down by their owners’ unloading of major debts onto the club. Liverpool are still recovering from their years of recklessness. And Arsenal may be financially secure, but they have paid for rational spending with declining competitiveness on the pitch.
La Liga is where the problems are perhaps most pronounced. Barcelona and Real Madrid can dominate financially against any of Europe’s powers, if UEFA’s new rules are implemented properly. Yet aside from the big two, Spain is ravaged by debt. Last year the La Liga season was postponed by a week due to a players strike over unpaid wages. The lack of money in Spanish football is a major problem and the reason why players of the calibre of Michu and Santi Cazorla left this summer for fees barely representing their true value.
In this context, Germany is doing remarkably well. Its league is actually posting profits. Its big teams are financially sane. Bayern Munich do not have debts, yet are able to spend fortunes bringing in some of Europe’s top players. Borussia Dortmund, conversely, have recovered from near bankruptcy a decade ago and are now a model of health financially, and one of Europe’s up and coming teams. The third team in Germany, Schalke, have a stunning stadium and illustrated this week with victory over Arsenal that they are a significant force too. And after all, they not so long ago reached the semi finals of the Champions League.
Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, Hamburg and Werder Bremen are amongst the big names languishing further down in German football but they are all capable of developing into top sides who can challenge. Only the French league has been as competitive as the German one either in recent years. In Germany, the number of teams who have been champions in the last decade is beaten only by France among Europe’s top six leagues. And this year a team, Eintracht Frankfurt, just promoted from the second tier, are riding high in second place in the league at present, between Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke.
Further down the league, German teams have stadiums the envy of Europe after the investments made for the World Cup in 2006. No league appears as healthy financially or impressive on the field at the moment. German football is on the rise. Soon their teams could replace the powers in England and Spain at the top of Europe’s football pyramid.