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Didi Hamann: The EPL is no model for the Bundesliga

Former Bayern Munich and long-time EPL player Didi Hamann argues that England should follow the model of the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich, not vice versa.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Dietmar "Didi" Hamann has argued in a recent essay for kicker that the English Premier League should be a warning, not an example, to the Bundesliga. In his view, "English soccer faces huge problems . . . The Premier League is headed for a crisis. The inflationary increase in TV money to €2.3 billion starting next season will not raise its level of play."

Hamann concentrates particularly on money, which naturally has been a great concern to observers in Germany, as English clubs stand to profit immensely from the EPL's massive new TV-revenue deal. In contrast, Hamann believes the EPL is in the midst of a "bubble" that he considers a threat to the stability of the league: "When players make €3 million a year just because they can run straight, it becomes dangerous for the English clubs."

What is more, in Hamann's view, the EPL has amply demonstrated that more money does not translate into greater success. "Even €20 million more in TV money per year will not increase Bayern Munich's chances of winning the Champions League. For five years, the English have been the best proof that money does not guarantee success. Money doesn't score goals."

Chelsea's Champions League victory over Bayern in 2012 was "an exception: English clubs are not the competitive gold standard in Europe. England accordingly should not serve as an example, but rather as a warning."

Hamann argues that, while paying skyrocketing fees for international players, English clubs have neglected their own youth; and yet they still are not signing real superstars: despite the wealth of the EPL, out of the top fifty international stars playing Hamann counts only five who play in the EPL (Aguero, Hazard, Silva, Özil, Sanchez), while the "giants" play elsewhere - for example, at Bayern, which alone boasts Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller - and one could add a few more names to Hamann's list.

In contrast to the English model, Hamann singles out the sound financial practices of Bayern Munich as a model for the Bundesliga to follow:

"Bayern Munich grew organically and for years has managed to field a top team with fundamentally solid means. More money has one effect above all: the selling clubs in Italy demand ten million more for a Vidal. The new money immediately goes toward transfers and higher salaries."

The success of Bundesliga clubs like Mönchengladbach and Augsburg are likewise counterexamples to the EPL that have emphatically shown "that good management is equally as important [as money]."

Finally, Hamann believes both the style of play and atmosphere of the Bundesliga are superior to the EPL. "With its offensive and technically polished style of play, the Bundesliga offers the most attractive product." Bundesliga fans moreover remain connected to their clubs, whereas in England, because of high ticket prices and tours overseas in Asia, "fans right outside their door risk losing their connection [to the clubs]."

Noting Pep Guardiola's decision to move to Manchester City next year, Hamann anticipates that Pep will be baffled by the apathetic atmosphere of many English stadiums: "he'll think he's in Unterhaching," that is, in the Bavarian regional league.

Didi Hamann played for Bayern Munich 1993-1998 before crossing over to the EPL, notably playing for Liverpool (1999-2006) and Manchester City (2006-2009). Recently, he has appeared as a commentator for Sky Sports.

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