"I'm convinced Bayern Munich will win the German championship. I don't think any team will be able to compete with them, from my point of view, the first place is taken already,"
"Bayern probably won't lose a single match, an end of their dominance is not in sight. In the long run, that's unhealthy for the league and even for Bayern."
So, went the statement from former Bayern Munich coach Felix Magath, as he lashed out at Mario Götze in response to his move away from Borussia Dortmund to their league rivals.
While, we can chuckle to our hearts content, because Borussia Dortmund responded to this move, by adding 24 year olds Henrik Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a combined €40.5M, a figure slightly higher than the buyout clause they earned off of Götze. We can debate whether this was an equitable trade for Dortmund. Actually no, we can't; because Dortmund made out quite well in this deal, are a stronger squad than last year, and if you believe otherwise go stick your head back in the sand.
However, this brings up the looming question of competitiveness in the Bundesliga. With the ever increasing TV revenue generated by competitions like the UEFA Champions League, how can the rest of the league actually compete with the biggest clubs in Germany? Can the league remain competitive, and not just a two or three horse race. Can the Bundesliga not be competitively boring as shit like the Premier League or La Liga? I'll confess, I don't want like watching a league where the few at the top destroy those below. Maybe, it's the baseball fan in me, who loves seeing teams fail on average half the time. However, in the last two seasons, we have seen the league champions set highs in record number of points. Bayern Munich lost only a single match all season, and only dropped 11 points all last season. Prior to that saw Dortmund win the league with 81 points. With the league champions in the last two seasons absolutely blowing past the average 73 point mark that denotes the league champions, we should be very concerned about maintaining parity and competitiveness in the Bundesliga.
We should be concerned about this as fans. A two horse race is hollow. A trophy is devalued and means less, as we see them paraded down our alleys, and as we stack the stars on our shirts. In a competition where the same teams win season after season, hope of winning the league becomes a glimmer in the distance for those below. New global fans flock to teams like Bayern Munich, swelling their ranks, while teams like 1860 München while away their days, league fodder for those above and relegated to gazing up at the spectacle. We should be concerned about this as consumers. A two horse race funnels the funds to the top, as they reach ever higher heights of spending; an endless arms race to the top; an aristocracy of sport that many cannot enter.
We need look no farther than Spain to see this manifested; a league where winning the league is an exercise in perfection. Gone is the ebb and flow; the pinnacles and depths; the triumphs, tribulations, and failures that define human existence and are manifested before our very eyes in the form of sport.
The all important factor in this is that German football has been dominated by commercial revenue and sponsorship for the last decade. TV revenue has always been small, and the commercial dominance of Bayern Munich has been what has kept it at the forefront of German football in this millennium. Bayern commercial revenue is in excess of €200M, while its biggest rival in Borussia Dortmund has languished far behind bringing in close to €100M. Broadcasting revenue has always been a relatively smaller percentage of the bucket for Bundesliga teams. However, these revenue streams are explicably intertwined because with increased television exposure, the commercial revenue for a team will increase. In this way, their perennial appearances in UEFA Champions League have already sprung Bayern Munich far out ahead of the pack. As the rest of the clubs try to catch up, their languishing television presence and reliance on domestic TV revenue prevents them from making the leap forward in securing the commercial revenue stream that is so key to Bayern Munich's success. The enormous success from this year's Champions League with three German teams reaching the knockout rounds, and with two advancing to the final is huge for Bundesliga exposure and signifies the changes moving forward.
Coming down the line are going to be those international television deals, pumping TV revenue straight into the lower clubs in Germany, while at the same time expanding their commercial power. At current, the structure is based on league position throughout the year, with the worst team in the Bundesliga earning exactly half that of the best team. In addition, this revenue is shared with the 2.Bundesliga getting a 20% chunk off the top before it's allocated within that division. In fact, the revenue is split based on a points system and that team's location within the last three years. (If you want a complete breakdown of this system, I refer you to this most excellent piece from Bundesliga Fanatic.). In this way, those teams that have placed well in the past season are rewarded for their performance, and relative position this season becomes less important. A single poor season doesn't resolve itself with the sale of your best assets. Teams remain competitive from year to year, keep some of their best talent, and can afford to bring in new talent to augment their squad.
In many ways, the Mario Götze buyout from Borussia Dortmund is quite possibly one of the best things that could have happened to the Bundesliga. By keeping that amount of money within the Bundesliga, Bayern has allowed its rival to strengthen itself, while at the same time strengthening themselves. The duopoly at this moment should actually in relatively short order explode league exposure, promote higher commercial and league broadcasting revenue; a rising tide that lifts all ships in the Bundesliga. While leagues across Europe rely on broadcasting revenue and the vagaries of that market, the Bundesliga has positioned itself to reap the rewards of their nation's economic power and its extensive youth football system with a leap to the forefront of world football. The Mario Götze transfer is the tip of the emerging iceberg.