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Club organization & the decline of German football

In The Times, Gabriele Marcotti examines the decline the Bundesliga, something that has puzzled me for some time. The data, based on success in European competition, are unequivocal. Bayern Munich, Germany's standard bearer, rank no better than 17th among European clubs. How the mighty have fallen.

This could be a temporary blip, but the theories discussed by Marcotti imply permanent effects. Marcotti points out that "German clubs are set up as 'not-for-profit' social entities." Thus, the clubs are inherently less entrepreneurial, and as a group do not face the competitive pressure that comes from Abramovich-style expenditure at Chelsea or Juventus. As money has become increasingly important in the post-Bosman (free agent) era, the organizational setup of German clubs has restrained their ability to compete with the best teams in Europe. The playing talent is flowing elsewhere.

An implication of this theory is that German clubs are more likely to favor proposals to restrict the market for imported talent, as discussed by Stef last week. Such a rule would make it easier for Germany to keep talent such as Ballack (at Chelsea) and Lehmann (at Arsenal), while weakening the leagues in countries which make greater use of imported talent -- England, Italy, and Spain.