German Bundesliga – Financially, the Best League in Europe

When you post an eighth successive annual turnover record, you’re doing something right. Not many will say the German Bundesliga is the best in European football, but beyond Bayern Munich and Dortmund, the numbers suggest it’s model is the best among the top European leagues, offering the most to its fans and teams in terms of value.

In the 2011-2012 season, the 18 Bundesliga clubs posted a combined profit of €55 million after tax, and a total turnover of €2.08 billion, improving by 7.2% from the previous season, as 14 of the 18 clubs recorded profits, something unheard of in the “better” English Premier League and Spanish La Liga.

Only 7 teams posted profits in the 2009-2010 season; that number rose to 12 teams posted a profit in 2010-2011. Over the last decade (since 2001-2002), the Bundesliga has doubled its turnover.

One of the keys, obviously, is the fantastic fan experience, which also comes from reasonable ticket prices. The Bundesliga is the most attended league in Europe, with an average of 44,293 fans per match. That is 10,000 more than the English Premier League and 16,000 more than the Spanish La Liga.

The balance of the revenue stream is also a big contributor to success. In England, Spain and Italy, between 45-60% arrive from the media partners. In the Bundesliga the figure is stable at 26% despite the clubs receiving more and more money every year for the broadcasting of games. The rest? 26.6% comes from advertising, 21.1% come from tickets sales. No great dependency on TV contracts, and no great dependency on anything else.

There’s a reason Bayern Munich are able to upgrade their expenditures in recent years, and it won’t be surprising to see other clubs follow suit, in a reasonable way. The Bundesliga isn’t going to become a league of oligarchs and oil tycoons, and it’s probably better for it. Big names don’t always make the league – fans and sensible ownership regulations are just as important. Maybe even more.