The DFL and DFB have recently stated that they want to engage in “open discussions” in terms of potentially introducing a playoffs system in the Bundesliga to decide on a champion. Bayern Munich is well on their way to lifting their tenth consecutive Meisterschale, which adds fuel to the fire of the outside perspective that the league is a boring, one horse race that’s unappealing to the neutral viewer. Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn unpopularly came out and said that he was in favor of having those open discussions. Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness was quick to counter Kahn’s views, saying that the idea was “a joke.”
Unlike Hoeness, former Bayern and Germany midfielder Lothar Matthäus recently said that, like Kahn, he’s not entirely closed off to the Bundesliga potentially adopting a playoff system. He was asked about the matter over the weekend when he was doing punditry work for Sky at the match between Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart. “Think, come up with a proper plan and then it has to be discussed. I wouldn’t close the file. I’m open to new ideas, but basically we’re used to this system in Germany,” he explained (SportBild).
Given his brief tenure from 1999-2000 in the MLS playing for the New York MetroStars, Matthäus has a level of familiarity with the way playoffs work in American sports. Different American sports have different playoff structures, but the MLS used to use a best of three series in the playoffs when Matthäus was with the MetroStars.
The way the domestic season is setup in Germany and other European leagues has been around for a long time and changing a system that already works would be difficult. Because of this, Matthäus said that everything would have to be just right if they were ever to bring playoffs to the Bundesliga. “We are football romantics and love our system. It would definitely be exciting at the end of the season, I’ve already played it in America. It must match. It must not be an additional burden for the players. If you play ‘best of three’ with the top eight teams, you end up with 40 or more games,” he explained.
On the main, based off of the previous pieces we’ve written here at BFW covering this subject, most fans do not want to see playoffs introduced in the Bundesliga, ever. The 2020 UEFA Champions League run-in, however, was something that a lot of people enjoyed where the quarter-finals and semi-finals were just one off matches instead of two-legged affairs. Even with that system, though, clubs would wind up missing out on gate receipts and television money, so it’s likely something that won’t be revisited by UEFA.