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Booming Bundesliga to ride World Cup wave

By Reuters in Berlin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-21 07:14

The booming Bundesliga can expect another bumper season in 2014-15 with the world's attention focused firmly on Germany following its World Cup victory in Brazil.

The German top division has been growing in terms of spectators and finances for years with the trend set to continue into the new season that starts on Friday.

The national team's World Cup victory has added to German soccer's growing allure.

"For everyone involved in the Bundesliga, the World Cup victory is a huge motivation to become even better on all levels," said VfL Wolfsburg sports director Klaus Allofs.

With minnow Paderborn promoted and Nuremberg, with a bigger stadium, relegated, the Bundesliga may not set a new attendance record, as it has done in recent seasons.

Yet it still looks set to maintain its status as the highest-attended league in the world with an average of more than 40,000 spectators attending each game.

Financial health

"The Bundesliga is seen by fans as exciting and we have the highest average attendance in the world," said German soccer league (DFL) president Reinhard Rauball. "The rivalry between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund is healthy for the league."

The country's top two teams, who have shared the title between them since 2010, reflect the health of the league.

Flush with cash from ticket sales and growing broadcasting revenues, the pair have dominated not only domestically but on the European stage as well with the highlight being the 2013 Champions League final where Bayern beat the Ruhr valley club in an all-German affair.

It is, however, the financial health of the vast majority of the 18 clubs, who churn out players from their youth academies, that makes the Bundes-liga the envy of the soccer world.

Every year more German players are lured away to the bigger leagues in Spain and England, with Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) and Emre Can (Liverpool) among the most recent exits, but the Bundes-liga's seemingly endless production line continues to feed the domestic clubs.

Bundesliga teams can expect increased interest in their players from European heavyweights while more and more foreign talents see the Bundesliga as an attractive alternative to the Premier League and Spain's La Liga.

With broadcast revenues increasing by about 60 million euros ($79.91 million) this year to 700 million euros, the German league is gradually closing the gap to its bigger European counterparts.

The Bundesliga still trails England in that respect, but DFL officials expect foreign TV deals to increase sharply in the future.

About 150 million euros is expected to be raised through rights deals with foreign broadcasters for the 2015-16 season, but DFL CEO Christian Seifert said this figure would inflate to 250 million "in the medium term".

"Football today is part of the global entertainment industry and so our thinking should not stop at country borders," he said.

German clubs have gone on a charm offensive in the close-season with Bayern touring the United States, Bayer Leverkusen in South Korea and Hamburg SV visiting China.

Seifert can already point to record coverage this season with 207 territories broadcasting last week's German Super Cup final between Bayern and Dortmund live.

When the Bavarians take on Wolfsburg in the season opener on Friday, the world will again be watching as the Bundesliga begins what officials believe will be yet another booming season.

 Booming Bundesliga to ride World Cup wave

Bayern Munich and Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger is one of the marquee players in the burgeoning Bundesliga, which kicks off on Friday. Schweinsteiger is nursing a knee injury and is not expected to return any time soon. Christof Stache / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 08/21/2014 page24)

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