Berlin: German football fans will soon have to prepare for a TV revolution and say goodbye to die-hard like habits as far as Bundesliga kick-off times are concerned.
Immediately after the English Premier League announced its new gigantic TV deal, which guarantees them up to 3.2 billion euros per season for national TV rights compared with 835 million euros per season in Germany, the German Football League (DFL), the German Football Association (DFB) and many German Clubs are working on plans which are regarded as a step into modern times. The ideas are however opposed by the majority of fans, reports Xinhua.
The DFL and DFB's aim is to open up the global football market and particular the Asian and American market. Therefore, they are considering staging the Bundesliga games late Monday (7.00/8.00 pm local time/at least 10 per season) in order to show matches live in other European countries and the United States.
They are also thinking about games Dec 26, similar to the Boxing Day matches in England, and an earlier kick-off time (midday local time) for that day and some Saturday games in order to serve the Asian market.
At present, Bundesliga matches are spread over Friday evening (8.30 pm), Saturday (3.30 and 5.30 pm) and Sunday (3.30/5.30 pm), and a second division game late Monday, which may have to kick-off earlier when the Bundesliga restructures its current schedule.
Changing kick-off times could come as early as the start of the 2017/2018 season when a new TV deal is expected to take effect for the German leagues. The DFL is aiming to crack the wall of one billion euros per season for the TV rights as soon as possible.
Many fans though are far from happy about the plans. For decades, first division football has been a beloved weekend passion for millions of Germans. Tens of thousands travel around the country to attend the games.
Many are already complaining about the travelling time and fear they will be prevented from watching their team when the kick-off times and game-days change.
Despite the fans' disappointment, the clubs see only one solution if they are to secure the Bundesliga's international competitiveness.
"We must get an answer to the question as to whether the Germans only want the Bundesliga or if they are interested their clubs being internationally successful," said Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
"We need to think about unpopular methods," said DFL CEO Christian Seifert, knowing fully well the Bundesliga won't hit the heights of the Premier League deal as in England two pay TV stations deliver games (up to 15 million subscribers). In Germany there is only one supplier (four million subscribers).
Seifert feels fans around the world will only follow two to three big leagues and they are the ones that will "survive" in the global race.
He knows the TV market in Germany has a different structure to the one in England. It means the Bundesliga has to find its own way. The Premier League would stay the number one for many years.
Rummenigge also sees the German league in danger of losing its stars if the gap to other leagues keeps on growing.
Currently, league leaders Bayern Munich receives up to 50 million euros per season from the national TV market. The club bottom of the league gets 20 million. In the Premier League the last placed team already gets 79.2 percent more out of the TV money than Bayern.
To present the Bundesliga brand worldwide, some are suggesting the first round of the German Cup (DFB-Pokal) should be played without Bundesliga teams to allow them to travel around the world drumming up attention for the league.
Currently the Bundesliga earns 72 million euros from the foreign TV rights. Italy's Serie A generates around 117 million euros, the Spanish La Liga over 150 million euros and the EPL 800 million euros.
With new kick-off times, German clubs, first and foremost Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, could increase their merchandising revenue by selling more shirts abroad.
Pundits are predicting that player salaries will rise in the Premier League after the new TV deal. A greater number of foreign players will be attracted to the top English division which in turn will make it harder for talented English youngsters to be given contracts at the leading clubs.