The chief executive of the Bundesliga, Christian Seifert, says there would be "a huge shitstorm" if clubs such as Bayern Munich were to start charging as much for tickets as Premier League sides.
Speaking during the summer, Seifert said German clubs voluntarily sacrifice extra ticket revenue in order to preserve the bonds with their community, the jubilant atmosphere in stadiums and, ultimately, the continued growth of the game in their country.
Seifert says that allowing as many people as possible – of all ages and social backgrounds – to go to stadiums is a guiding principle of German clubs, describing it as both a social responsibility and a business tactic comparable to that of the budget supermarket Aldi.
The average Bundesliga ticket price is €23 and the league enjoys a 92 per cent stadium occupancy rate; its average attendance of 43,500 is the highest of any football league in the world, almost 9,000 more than the Premier League’s.
“Bayern Munich each year gets €30 to €40 million less than Manchester United from ticket sales, which means €300m in 10 years. We [the Bundesliga] don’t have influence on ticket prices. All the clubs can decide on their own but some kind of common sense prevails. Every year in magazines you see double pages about the prices of tickets, bratwurst and beer, etc and everyone gets in a huge shitstorm if the price of bratwurst goes up by 10 cents. The concept of Aldi was invented in Germany: very cheap but a lot.”
In addition to ensuring affordable tickets are available, German clubs elect to restrict the number of season tickets that they sell in order to ensure more fans get to see at least some of their teams’ matches. “Demand is huge but clubs choose to limit season ticket sales to 40 or 50 per cent because they don’t want the same people going every week,” he added.
“They want everyone to have a chance. It would be very easy to raise the prices and make more money out of the fans but the clubs tend to choose not to do so. From a pure economic perspective you can say ‘What a mistake’ but, given our holistic approach, I would say it is the right approach.”
Seifert says that this holistic approach is based on marrying “finances, the game and society: if we do not have success in all three dimensions, we do not consider it success at all”.
He hailed the “basic treaty” that has existed between German clubs and the Bundesliga since 2002 enshrining the belief that “clubs are an established part of society, bring people together and cities and regions identify with them”.
Season ticket prices this season
Hamburger SV €129 to €788
Schalke 04 €148 to €776
Bayern Munich €140 to €750
Borussia Dortmund €103 to €705
Mainz €165 to €620
Bayer Leverkusen €170 to €540
Arsenal €1,300 to €2,564
Chelsea €955 to €1,592
Manchester United €677 to €1,210
Liverpool €904 to €1,101
Burnley €419 to €872
West Brom €444 to €584
League of Ireland
Shamrock Rovers €210 to €340
Sligo Rovers €200 to €270
Cork City €210 to €260
Dundalk €200 to €250
Derry City €180 to €230
St Patrick's Athletic €200