Bayern eclipse Barcelona thanks to blue chip backers and loyal Bavarian fan base
Financial muscle that enabled club to assemble star studded team from home and abroad reflected in Ballon D’Or nominations
Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich coach accompanied by CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (L) and President Uli Hoeness as he steps up to the pitch of the Allianz Arena stadium. Photo: Alex Hassenstein/Getty
Bayern will announce its results for last season next month at a meeting of shareholders, many of them fans, but the club’s Director of Communications, Markus Horwick, told a group of visiting media organisations, including The Irish Times, last week that revenues will definitely top the €400 million mark on the back of their Champions League success.
That’s a substantial rise on last year’s €368 million and possibly enough for them to overtake Manchester United, who currently lie third in the game’s rich list behind Real and Barca.
Bayern chief executive, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, though, laughs at the very idea of the list. “I would change the word rich,” he says. “Sure, revenues are growing but in my office I have a rich list of the European clubs and I look at it and think that of the top 10 maybe eight are not so rich at all.”
With Bayern, though, there can be little doubt. The club’s finances appear to be rock solid with €85 million coming from merchandising and €95 million from a select group of sponsors that includes Adidas, another nine per cent stakeholder, Audi, and Deutsche Telekom who signed a new four-year, €30 million per annum deal at the start of the summer.
The win over Hertha Berlin at the weekend was the 229th straight home game in Bundesliga to sell out the Allianz Arena – that’s roughly 70,000 per game – and even if the cheapest season tickets are remarkably affordable, things average out rather nicely due to commercial and top end sales.
Almost inevitably, not everyone is happy with some supporters’ groups claiming they are being marginalised in what they see as a home ground robbed of its atmosphere by the presence of so many corporate and high -end ticket holders.
The row has rumbled on almost since the stadium opened around the time of the 2006 World Cup and became exacerbated this year when Bayern tightened up on tickets for its own travelling supporters after the club was fined €150,000 for the use of flares at Wembley, an incident it blamed on holders of away season tickets.
The whole thing drew a typically forthright response from another member of the 1970s team, Uli Hoeness, now club president, who accused those who complained of peddling: “populist bullshit,” and told the critics that: “You, and you alone, are responsible for the bad atmosphere, not us. The €7 we charge you for tickets. What do you believe we do to make that possible? You are financed by the people in the VIP boxes.”