First as tragedy, then as farce, then as marketing success.
We all remember #fairytale from the Champions League Final last May, which was the most cringe-worthy part of BVB's marketing and public relations blitz on the English-speaking media in the time leading up to the match.
Everyone from Jürgen Klopp to members of the club's board were preaching a "Good vs. Evil" narrative that allegedly resembled Bayern vs. Dortmund. This is supposing that Bayern had some sort of unfair advantage over Dortmund, as if the Bavarians were, I don't know, recently taken over by a mysterious and shady oil tycoon. The Reds were even compared to the villain from the latest James Bond film, because why not? Nobody in the British press was going to bat an eye because it was coming from the ever-charming Klopp.
To set the fiscal record straight, Bayern and BVB were, at various points, on similar financial footing at times in the last 30 years. In the late 1970's and the early portion of the 1980's Bayern were in debt after leveraging their financials on the future success of the club (are you listening, Manchesters United and City as well as Real Madrid?). They've since learned from their mistakes and are in possibly the most secure financial situation of any team you can think of, but they had to make changes to arrive at this point.
Dortmund's latest troubles came at the beginning of this century but credit to them, they've leaned on their massive following and turned it around (with a little help).
Let's not allow Dortmund's recent run of success to be confused with St. Pauli or Alemannia Aachen or Hansa Rostock reversing their fortunes to reach a European final, though. Dortmund had massive corporate resources to lean upon and a large membership base that made it possible. Their marketing department would have you believe, though, that they are just like Energie Cottbus but with Marco Reus and GREAT FANS OH LOOK AT HOW MANY FANS who were there all through the *tough* times of winning the Bundesliga 5 times in the last 20 years and the Champions League once back in 1997.
About that Marco Reus character. Great player. He also has something in common with departed teammate Mario Götze; his current club is bigger and has more resources than his old one, and he is there because said current club activated a release clause.
Remember last season when during the Götze transfer saga Klopp spouted:
We're not a supermarket but they want our players since they know they can pay more than us. This isn't our way.
Oh really? Is that how Mönchengladbach feels about you? That it's not your way to swoop in and offer a promising young player bright lights, consistent European football, increased visibility and a pay raise?
Let's revisit the Reus transfer and what the player had to say about it:
I'd like to play for a club who can challenge for the league title and guarantee me Champions League football. I see this chance in Dortmund.
Call me crazy but this looks like the ketchup calling Erich Honecker red.
Götze didn't have to go to Bayern, he chose to. To act like a bully came and stole the player is silly, but Klopp's silliness is enabled time and time again by The Guardian and others in Britain.
The fact is that every German club besides FCB, BVB and possibly Schalke and Leverkusen has the right (and exercises this right) to view Bayern and BVB as basically the same. It doesn't really matter to Nürnberg or Hannover or Freiburg or Frankfurt who ends up winning the league on the field (though their fans may have preferences)- there are two teams on a different level, on a different playing field well above the rest of the Bundesliga.
Now to their fans.
In and around Dortmund, there are tens of thousands of hardcore, true BVB fans, who create a great and special atmosphere at the Westfalenstadion.
But then there's Britain. The entire island seems to have adopted the Schwarzgelben as their second team after being wooed by Klopp and sold a half-truth of a story, all enabled by the media.
Above all else, I feel sorry for the recent tide of British BVB fans. Most seem to really like Dortmund and I hate to be the one to burst their bubble, but they're little more than the ones who fell for the most white-collar, Mad Men-esque marketing scheme in recent football history, ironically to sell a "blue-collared" product in the heart of Westphalia.
Mobile Plakate, gelber Doppeldeckerbus: unsere Aktionen in London. // Our activities in London took off at noon. pic.twitter.com/6HGK0af9CS— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) May 24, 2013
Though as long as they spend money on the club, Dortmund have done their job.