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Opinion

Do Newcastle fans need a little bit of the German mentality?

3 years ago
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When Newcastle fans, and football supporters in England in general, are faced with unpopular moves and/or ideas from their club and/or the authorities, the reaction pretty much every time is ‘Well, what can you do…?’.

In Germany, it appears to be more a case of ‘We’ll see about that’.

It is strange that despite Germany having the most dominant national side in Europe and the best supported club teams (nine of the 20 clubs with the highest average attendances  last season were from the Bundesliga), there is relatively little interest in German football from those outside it.

It is almost as though they just don’t care what anybody else thinks, they just want to do things their way.

For Newcastle fans with a few years on the clock, there is often a feeling of a bit of nostalgia, a feeling that German club football of the present day is a little bit like how it was back in the day here, before the Premier League era.

Massive terraces with tens of thousands of fans standing all match singing, not shy of wearing the odd scarf or ten as well. They like to put on a show.

The best supported club in Germany is Borussia Dortmund, who average around 80,000 gates.

Yet on Monday night 30,000 of those supporters didn’t turn up.

The protest was due to the Bundesliga taking the ‘shocking’ step of including in their TV deals for the first time, five Monday night live TV matches per season.

German fans don’t want this, they don’t want to be dictated to that they have to put up with games moved to this rubbish choice of day for the benefit of the TV companies. So 30,000 Borussia Dortmund fans didn’t show up for the home game against Augsburg despite having already paid for their tickets.

The Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans -Joachim Watzke summed up the difference between the fans in the two countries:

“In English football, the fans accept, mostly, that they are more clients than members or pieces of the club.

“We have 154,000 members. Everyone wants to be a part of the club, not a client of the club. That is a big difference. That is the special spirit in German football.”

Watzke adding:

“At the moment there is more money in England but maybe, in 20 or 50 years, we will, perhaps, be able to say our way was the better way.

“It is important what your fans think.”

For the first time, the new TV deals for UK live rights have seen a reduction in terms of how much will be paid per match, the average going down from just over £10m per match to just over £9m. With two packages of games yet to be taken up by any broadcaster.

Ironic that as German fans are going ballistic because five Monday night matches per season have been included amongst the live TV games, English fans have hardly expressed a murmur, as for the first time more than half the Premier League games are being sold off for live coverage – 200 of the 380 matches per season, as from 2019/20.

In England, the story we are sold is that maximising money is all important so we can watch the best players, pay the biggest wages and…(allegedly) watch the best football.

However, it would be interesting to see what fans who actually pay to go to watch Premier League matches would choose, if offered the Bundesliga model instead.

Standing areas, better atmospheres, drinking beer on the terraces, cheaper prices, bigger crowds, fewer matches moved to inconvenient times for Live TV…though at the expense of less money coming in from broadcasters and almost of that cash going on transfer fees and wages.

When you put it like that…

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