Football and the market

Here is an uplifting story from the Bundesliga, of all places. First the Germans play attractive football in 2006, and now this. It is all very unsettling.

Right, back to the Cup Final.

7 replies on “Football and the market”

Kevin: the triumph of Sporting Fingal (which somehow doesn’t sound quite as glamourous as Sporting Lisbon) is also uplifting in its own way.

I didn’t even know there was such a team as Sporting Fingal until I came across the match purely by chance this evening midway through the second half. Of course I had to cheer my own county – once I realised that’s who they were. And then they scored that magnificent winning goal in the dying minutes of the match – better than a lot of celebrated international goals I’ve seen, in my humble opinion as a complete and utter football ignoramus.

But, I wonder, will this splendid victory do anything for the Fingal economy?

Bundesliga free-to-air? That’s new to me. Admittedly it’s been half a season since my Astra satellite connection was yanked, but up to the 2008-2009 season there were no free-bees that I could tune into.

If memory serves, Premiere’s extortionary monopolistic practices led to show-down with the Bundesliga some four years ago, in which the league unceremoniously yanked the contract and gave it to an unknown competitor called Arena.

Arena, in turn, proved incompetent at marketing, and both they and the league clearly underestimated the value of bundling with other premium pay-per-view content.

Viewer numbers declined, the league was forced to admit they would have been better off paying Premiere the premium, which they promptly did two years later.

Most tellingly, in a press statement, Premiere’s CEO all but gloated over the technical barriers to entry which would shore up his TV monopoly:

“Premiere will benefit from the accelerated digitization in cable and satellite households: the technical entry barriers will be eliminated step by step.”

With this recent history of market mismanagement, there is every reason to believe the league’s new adventure into free-to-air will be every bit as disasterous as were their negotiations with Premiere.


you are right – there is no free to air Bundesliga but the German football association (DFB) have a preference for international games to be shown free to air, so they will have lost some revenue there. All that is available of the Bundesliga is highlights directly after the games have finished.

The article also seems to suggest that the German clubs are in a sound financial state which many are not. For my sins I support Schalke and they are broke (despite very high attendances at home games in their amazing but hugely expensive stadium).

One could also argue that the poor results of Bayern Munich of late are a result of poor management – Philip Lahm got himself into a lot of trouble for suggesting that the club has bought the wrong players (anyone looking for a right back). Bayern Munich has spent a lot of money on players but that has not translated into results.

To top things off some fixtures in lower leagues are now subject to a criminal investigation for match fixing (not the first time either – lots of other countries involved too).

In other words, not all is well in the Bundesliga, even if they have taken a decision not to sell their clubs to outside interests. They have argued for a long time that the other financial models (England, Spain) are not viable over the long-term – they might be right eventually, but in the meantime they are unlikely to win the Champions Leage.

On the plus side the DFB has invested heavily in youth development which has paid off handsomely – they have won the European titles at all age groups.

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