Monday, October 29, 2012

Borussia Dortmund - Back In The Game



Last season was truly memorable for Borussia Dortmund’s many supporters, as their beloved Schwarzgelben retained their Bundesliga title and also secured the first double in the club’s 103-year history by winning the DFB Cup too. Not only did they avoid the dreaded second season syndrome, but they actually did so in record-breaking style by setting the highest points total (81) and the longest unbeaten run in a single season (28 matches). Germany’s leading sports magazine, Kicker, compared this achievement with Bob Beamon’s “unbelievable” long jump record in the 1968 Olympics.

They have admirably managed to cope with the loss of key players each season, so when they sold influential captain Nuri Şahin to Real Madrid in the summer of 2011, his place in midfield was effectively taken up by Shinji Kagawa, whose return from injury meant no loss in momentum. Similarly, when the Japanese international was sold to Manchester United this summer, Dortmund had already signed his replacement, the highly talented Marco Reus from Borussia Mönchengladbach.

In the club’s own words, Dortmund’s performance in Europe was “not as impressive”, as they finished bottom of their Champions League group behind Arsenal, Marseille and Olympiacos, betrayed by their young team’s lack of experience at this level. However, they appear to have remedied this weakness (so far) this season with fine victories over Real Madrid and Ajax plus much the better of an away draw with Manchester City.

"Götze - super Mario"

All this has been done with Dortmund playing an exciting, attractive brand of football that has been appreciated by fans everywhere. Under charismatic manager Jürgen Klopp, this is a side that attacks with pace and defends with great intensity, proving that teams can win with style.

They have also achieved the seemingly impossible task in football of combining victories on the pitch with financial success, though it is equally true that sporting success has helped lead to improved economic results. In 2011/12 Dortmund’s revenue rose by an imposing 42% to a record €215 million (€189 million excluding player sales), while pre-tax profits surged to a hefty €37 million. Despite higher bonus payments, the wage bill of less than €80 million can still be described as “merely average” for the Bundesliga.

These figures provide the most tangible evidence yet that Dortmund have made a remarkable recovery from their financial difficulties of a few years ago when they flirted with bankruptcy. In 2002 the club was forced to sell its famous Westfalenstadion to a real estate trust, having squandered the funds from its flotation on the German stock exchange.

Worse was to come as the club splashed out on expensive signings and high wages, effectively gambling on regular qualification for in the Champions League to fund this massive spending. When this was not achieved, they only succeeded in building up huge debts, leaving the club in a “life-threatening situation”.

"Hummels - Mats entertainment"

The club was saved by the “never say die” spirit of their supporters, whose “We are Borussia” campaign resulted in Dortmund’s community of citizens, companies and public authorities combining to help repair the finances. This included some very understanding creditors and bank managers, who deferred stadium rent and interest payments until 2007.

Dortmund also had to take out yet another loan to help pay the players’ salaries, while they were forced to shore up the balance sheet in 2006 with significant capital increases, which enabled the club to obtain a more manageable debt structure and improved interest rate terms. In particular, the club took out a 15-year loan of €79 million with Morgan Stanley, which facilitated the repurchase of the remaining stake in their stadium from the property fund.

The restructuring process was completed two years later, when €50 million of cash received after signing a new 12-year marketing agreement with Sportfive was used to fully repay the Morgan Stanley loan many years ahead of schedule. The club promised that this move would not only further reduce its liabilities, but would free up funds to improve its sporting competitiveness. Two Bundesliga titles later and it’s fair to say that the club has been true to its word.

"Lewandowski - Pole dance"

Dortmund have learned from their past mistakes (and excesses) and adopted a far more sustainable business model in the past few years. They now employ a solid financial strategy, based around the over-riding principle of “achieving maximum sporting success without taking on more debts.” The focus is primarily on youth, as explained by managing director Thomas Treß, “We learned that you have to invest in your youth, to develop your own stars, adding to your team with young players of potential.”

This investment in relatively cheap, promising young players, rather than he expensive finished article, has been assisted by the foundation in 2011 of the BVB Academy, a modern training centre to develop players between the ages of 19 and 23. Dortmund’s youth academy has been a veritable production line for the first team, turning out talent like Mario Götze, Marcel Schmelzer and Kevin Großkreutz, while other youngsters like Mats Hummels and Sven Bender have been further developed at Dortmund. Most of these players have signed long-term contracts with Dortmund until 2016 or 2017.

Bayern Munich’s outspoken president Uli Hoeneß took a pot shot at his rivals’ approach, “They had to do it that way, because they don’t have the money.” Well, exactly. Very few clubs have the financial power of Bayern, but it is surely better to make your suit from the cloth available, rather than spend money you don’t have on a fancy new outfit that falls apart a couple of years later.


Dortmund’s revised, more sensible approach has been epitomised by their dealings in the transfer market. In the five years leading up to the fateful 2004/05 season, the club’s net spend was a chunky €97 million, before their debt problems forced them to offload players, generating surpluses over the next three years, followed by very modest spend, so that “transfer income and expenses are balanced.” Over the last nine years, the club had net sales proceeds of €5 million – a stark contrast to their extravagant era.

Under sporting director Michael Zorc, Dortmund’s scouting has been focused on “value development”, so that “transfers should create substantial earnings potential”, as well as “sustainable sporting competitiveness”. This means that the young talent is likely to leave “to secure large transfer income”, though the club acknowledges that this strategy creates a conflict between financial considerations and sporting criteria. This can lead to a lack of squad depth, hence the uncertain start to this season in the Bundesliga.


In fact, over the last three seasons no fewer than nine clubs in Germany’s top flight have spent more than Dortmund’s net €2 million. In fairness, very few Bundesliga clubs spend big on transfers with the obvious exception being Bayern Munich, who spent €116 million in the same period. Dortmund’s chairman, Hans-Joachim Watzke, accepted this discrepancy, “I must point out that we continue to operate in different spheres. Bayern spent €70 million this year, including €40 million on Javi Martinez.”

Thomas Treß added, “We are not able to compete in the European soccer market with British or Spanish clubs in respect of transfer pricing.” That’s true, but you can also add a few more countries to that list, as can be seen by the above graph, which highlights the massive difference with other leading Europe clubs. At one end of the spectrum, we have Dortmund with €2 million; at the other end, three clubs, fueled by oil-rich owners, have splashed out around a quarter of a billion pounds: Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.


This summer saw a slight change of emphasis with the €17 million capture of Marco Reus, though even this was compensated by the €16 million received for Kagawa. Bayern’s former sporting director, Christian Nerlinger, conceded, “With this transfer they have established themselves as a major rival for the championship.” Dortmund claimed that this signing demonstrated that they were “the team to be for young, ambitious Bundesliga players”, though in fairness there were special circumstances here, as Reus grew up as a Dortmund fan and his parents live in the area.

Nevertheless, the suspicion remains that if they receive the right offer, Dortmund will continue to sell their best players, such as the prolific forward Robert Lewandowski. Watzke recently denied this, “We won’t give up Robert for any money in the world. We don’t want to open a bank”, but few would be surprised if the Polish international were to leave next summer.


Indeed, player sales contributed nearly half (€17 million) of Dortmund’s very impressive 2011/12 pre-tax profits of €37 million, which were €27 million higher than the previous season’s profits of €10 million. After tax was taken into consideration, profits increased from €5 million to €28 million. That was much more than the previous five years when player sales produced profits on average of less than €5 million a year.

Operating profit grew by €17 million to €24 million, as revenue grew by an amazing €51 million (37%) from €139 million to €189 million, more than off-setting increases in the wage bill (£18 million) and other expenses (€17 million). Other operating income, largely due to payments from national associations for the release of Dortmund’s players, also improved by €3 million to €8 million.

As a technical aside, I am using the Deloitte definition of revenue here in order to facilitate comparisons with other European clubs, so have excluded transfer income of €26 million. Adding that to my revenue of €189 million gives the €215 million announced by Dortmund. The profit on player sales of €17 million is then obtained by deducting transfer expenses of €9 million and is largely due to the sales of Kagawa to Manchester United and Lucas Barrios to the Chinese club Guangzhou.


It is clear that “Borussia has developed itself economically and on a sporting level continuously over the last few years”, as Watzke put it. The profits made in the last two seasons represent a spectacular turnaround, as the club had previously reported losses in five of the last six years, including €55 million in the annus horribilis of 2004/05 and €23 million the year after.

In comparison, Bayern Munich, the “alpha male” of the Bundesliga with 22 league titles and four Champions League victories, have made profits 19 years in a row, consistently bettering Dortmund’s results off the pitch – except last season, when the Schwarzgelben’s €9.5 million was slightly higher than the Bavarians’ €8.8 million. Bayern will also have to go some to match Dortmund’s €37 million in 2011/12.


Dortmund re-entered Deloitte’s Money League in 2010/11 in 16th position with revenue of €139 million, even without the benefit of Champions League money. Their 2011/12 revenue of €189 million would have placed them 11th, assuming no growth at other clubs.

That is more than respectable, but the problem is that it is far below the leading clubs, such as Real Madrid €479 million, Barcelona €451 million, Manchester United €367 million and (crucially) Bayern Munich €321 million. The magnitude of Dortmund’s accomplishment in overcoming Real Madrid last week can be seen by the relative revenue figures last season with Madrid’s €514 million being nearly three times as much as Dortmund’s record €189 million.


Bayern’s revenue of €321 million is by far the highest in Germany, giving them a major competitive advantage over their rivals: Schalke 04 €202 million, Dortmund €189 million, Hamburg €129 million, Werder Bremen €100 million and Stuttgart €96 million (all 2011 figures, except Dortmund 2012). Moreover, only Dortmund have kept pace with Bayern’s insatiable revenue growth: since 2007, they have both increased revenue by just under €100 million. Schalke also grew revenue by €88 million, but their 2012 figure is very likely to fall back after the absence of Champions League revenue, which was worth €40 million in TV distributions alone in 2011.


Even though Dortmund’s revenue has been going great guns, rising 80% (€84 million), while Bayern’s actually dipped €2 million last season, the gap between the two clubs is still a mighty €132 million. This is nonetheless a lot better than the colossal €218 million shortfall in 2010, when Bayern’s revenue was literally three times as much as Dortmund’s.


Even so, Dortmund’s revenue growth has been hugely impressive, more than doubling from €90 million five years ago, especially as it was relatively flat during the three years between 2008 and 2010 at around the €105 million level. Last season all revenue streams contributed to the €51 million rise to €189 million: TV €28 million (mainly Champions League participation) to €60 million; commercial €19 million to €97 million; and match day €4 million to €31 million.

As we can see, the largest revenue category is commercial income. In fact, in 2010/11 Dortmund had the highest percentage of their total revenue from commercial (57%) of any Money League club. Although this has fallen to 51% in 2011/12, mainly due to Champions League money, this is still a very high proportion for a football club.


To place that into context, it is worth comparing the revenue mix with Arsenal, where commercial activities contribute only 23% of total revenue. In contrast, match day is worth 41% at the North London club, compared to only 17% at Dortmund. Looked at another way, the majority of Dortmund’s revenue is generated from companies, while fans bear most of the burden at Arsenal.

In fact, Dortmund’s striking commercial revenue of €97 million means that they are only behind the four marketing behemoths of the football world: Real Madrid €187 million, Bayern Munich €178 million, Barcelona €167 million and Manchester United €130 million.


The club’s commercial strategy is to secure long-term partners, as seen by their agreement with marketing partner Sportfive, who have signed with the club until 2020, by which time they will have been the club’s marketing partner for 20 years. All three main sponsorship deals are long-term in nature: shirt sponsor Evonik, whose agreement has been in place since 2006, extended from 2013 to 2016; stadium naming rights partner Signal Iduna also extended from 2016 to 2021; while new kit supplier Puma signed up until 2020.

Another objective is to sign up many secondary sponsors, known as “champion partners”, and a lengthy list now includes the likes of Opel, Sparda Bank, Sprehe, Wilo, Brinkhoff’s, Flyer Alarm, Hankook, Yanmar and West Lotto.

Dortmund have managed to grow all aspects of their commercial revenue: sponsorship and advertising rose 16% to €58 million, mainly due to new partners and an increase in the VIP hospitality occupancy rate to 100%; while merchandising and catering was also up an impressive 41% to €37 million.

Over a third of merchandising revenue is now earned through the online shop, while a fifth fan shop was opened in the city of Dortmund in September 2011. According to a survey by PR Marketing, die Borussen sold between 250,000 and 500,000 replica shirts in the 2011/12 season with only eight clubs selling more. Catering revenue also rose 9% to €10 million.


Despite these successes, Dortmund’s commercial income is still only around 55% of Bayern’s, partly due to the €38 million revenue the Bavarians earn from the Allianz Arena, though their sponsorship and advertising is also €23 million higher. Our old friend Uli Hoeneß said that Dortmund would need to have a more consistent track record of winning trophies if they hoped to match Bayern’s global appeal, but in truth they’re doing very well compared to almost every other club on the planet.

Evonik, a chemical company, has increased its shirt sponsorship to €10 million, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, though this is still lower than deals struck by some other German clubs: Bayern (Deutsche Telekom), Schalke (Gazprom) and Wolsburg (Volkswagen). It is also a long way behind the mega deals at the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, though it does include hefty add-ons for sporting success. The Evonik chairman said that he was very pleased with Dortmund as a partner, due to their large crowds and title wins (“in a very exciting way”).

German clubs have proved very adept at securing valuable shirt sponsorship deals. Although the total value of such deals is higher in the Premier League, the average value of each deal is actually higher in the Bundesliga, as it has two fewer clubs (according to a study by International Marketing Reports).


Signal Iduna, the naming rights partner, has also increased its annual payment from €4 million to between €4.5 and €5 million after the deal extension.

Dortmund’s new kit supplier, Puma, is reportedly paying €6-7 million a season from July 2012, replacing Kappa, whose deal was only worth €4 million. Rather wonderfully, the new shirt has the inscription “Echte Liebe” (true love) on the inside of the collar. That’s good news, but it is still far below Bayern’s €25 million deal with Adidas (and, for that matter, Real Madrid’s €38 million agreement with the same company).

Paradoxically, BVB are  helped commercially by the weak digital television market, which means that German clubs are televised more frequently on terrestrial channels than their counterparts in England, Spain and Italy, thus providing more exposure for their sponsors. As the old saying goes, it’s an ill wind that blows no good.


However, this also means that television income is not very high in Germany, as can be seen from the 2010/11 Money League, where Dortmund sat in 19th position. Their revenue of €32 million was around one sixth of the €184 million earned by Barcelona and Real Madrid, who benefit greatly from their individual domestic deals.

In 2011/12, Dortmund’s TV revenue rose €28 million to €60 million, very largely due to the €25 million from the Champions League with the remainder coming from the DFB Cup, which they won compared to a second round exit the previous season.

They received around €28 million from the Bundesliga distribution, a small increase on the previous season. TV revenue in Germany is largely divided among clubs via a points system based on their league position over the past four years, though some money is also allocated per the number of games televised live.


Performance is weighted in favour of the more recent years, so last season a factor of 4 was applied to 2011/12, 3 to 2010/11, 2 to 2009/10 and 1 to 2008/09. However, a form of equality is then applied, as the club with most points from this algorithm only receives twice as much money as the club that has the lowest number of points. In this way, as top club in 2011/12 Bayern Munich received €24 million for performance (excluding live fees), which was double the €12 million for last placed Augsburg.

The Bundesliga recently announced an increase in the value of their TV rights with the domestic deal for the four years from 2013/14 to 2016/17 rising 52% from €410 million to €628 million and the overseas rights increased by a similar rate to €72 million. The new total of €700 million will take it ahead of La Liga (€655 million) and Ligue 1 (which actually fell to €642 million). The Bundesliga’s chief executive, Christian Seifert, was ecstatic, “ We didn’t expect results like this, it clearly exceeded our expectations”, while Bayern’s chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, described it as “a milestone in the history of the Bundesliga.”


Nevertheless, the TV rights for German football are still lower than Serie A (€944 million) and only half the Premier League deal (€1.4 billion). That is before the new English deal from 2013/14, which is estimated to be worth at least €2.2 billion, i.e. three times the “historic” Bundesliga deal.

Dortmund’s share of the TV revenue should rise to around €40 million, but this is still a lot less than the money earned by English clubs. Last season’s Premier League winners, Manchester City, pocketed €75 million, while even the bottom club, Wolverhampton Wanderers, received €49 million. The new Premier League deal is likely to deliver €110-120 million to the leading English teams.

Once again demonstrating their innovative spirit, Dortmund were the first German club to offer their own TV package, BVBtotal!, in January 2011, run jointly with Deutsche Telekom.


Dortmund’s allocation from the Champions League was worth €25.4 million in 2011/12, considerably more than the €4.5 million they received from the Europa League the previous season, even though they went out at the group stage. However, this was still a lot less than the €42 million Bayern received for reaching the final.

Interestingly, Dortmund (€17 million) still received more than Bayern (€14.8 million) from the TV (market) pool, due to the methodology used to allocate this element, which is as follows: (a) half depends on the progress in the current season’s Champions League, based on the number of games played; (b) half depends on the position that the club finished in the previous season’s domestic league. As three German clubs reached the group stage this season, the split will be: Dortmund 45%, Bayern 35% and Schalke 20%. The Champions League will be worth even more, as the overall prize money for the 2012 to 2015 three-year cycle has increased by 22%, but it will be higher for German clubs, as their TV deals have risen considerably, thus boosting their market pool.

"Grosskreutz - we need to talk about Kevin"

The Europa League is much less lucrative, though German clubs benefit from relatively high TV deals, so last season Schalke earned the same (€10.5 million) as the winners Atlético Madrid, even though they were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Therefore, Dortmund will be gratified that Germany’s number of places in the Champions League has increased from 3 to 4 (at the expense of Italy), due to the improving UEFA coefficients. However, this might prove to be a double-edged sword, as it could mean that Germany’s TV pool has to be shared between more clubs.

European money has clearly made a substantial difference to Dortmund’s revenue, but Watzke has claimed that the club is not economically dependent on Champions League money and they could survive three seasons without it, thanks to their long-term sponsorship contracts – though they would have to make cuts.


Last season Dortmund’s incredible average attendance of 80,500 was the highest in Europe, ahead of Barcelona 79,600 and Manchester United 75,400. This was easily the largest average in Germany with the next highest teams being Bayern 69,000 and Schalke 61,200. The Dortmund fans’ interest shows no sign of slowing down, as they have just established a new Bundesliga record for season tickets for 2012/13 at a mighty 54,000 – and that was capped to ensure an adequate supply of tickets on the day of the match.


It is therefore a little perplexing to see that Dortmund have one of lowest match day revenues in the Money League with only €28 million in 2010/11 (€31 million in 2011/12), while the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal all collect more than €100 million. There are two obvious reasons for this huge discrepancy: less matches and low ticket prices.

There are two fewer home games every season in the Bundesliga, while last season Dortmund only played three Champions League home games, bringing in €4.4 million, and one in the DFB Cup. This resulted in a total of 21 home games compared to 28-29 for the leading English and Spanish clubs.


Dortmund’s high attendances (and small match day revenue) can be partially attributed to the large number of standing places for which season tickets are priced as low as €187 (€109 for youths). Nearly 25,000 of these can be found on the famous Südtribüne terrace, known as the “Yellow Wall”, which is the largest standing area in European football and provides each home game with an intensely passionate atmosphere. Occasionally, that enthusiasm can go too far, such as the hooliganism seen at the recent Schalke derby when there were 200 arrests and water cannon had to be used.

It is surely no coincidence that the Bundesliga has the lowest ticket prices of Europe’s five major leagues and consequently the highest attendances. This is an important part of football culture in Germany, as seen recently when Dortmund fans staged a protest against Hamburg’s steep prices for away standing tickets, leaving their block after 10 minutes. Klopp gave them his support, “The league needs to think just how far they want to push prices.”

There are no such problems in Dortmund’s imposing stadium, now officially named Signal Iduna Park, which is the largest football ground in Germany and the sixth largest in Europe. This is obviously an extremely valuable asset that can also be used to host international matches, when the capacity is reduced to 67,000 by converting the standing areas to seats. The Times described it as the “most beautiful stadium in the world”, writing, “Every Champions League final should be held in Dortmund. The place was built for football and its fans.”


Even though the wage bill has risen by 67% (€32 million) since 2010 to stand at €80 million, this is still very much under control, as revenue has grown at an even faster rate of 80% (€84 million). In fact, the important wages to turnover ratio has actually fallen to a very creditable 42% from the peak of 48% in 2009, which is even better than the 50% targeted by the Bundesliga.

The €18 million increase in the total wage bill in 2011/12 was largely due to sporting success, namely higher performance-related bonus payments, though there was also a rise in administration staff. Treß emphasised that the club had a “very flexible cost structure”, so any lessening in performance on the pitch should mean a smaller wage bill. The wage bill is not analysed in the accounts, but the cost of the football squad has been estimated at €60 million.


Even after this growth, Dortmund’s total wage bill of €80 million is still only about half of Bayern’s €158 million, though the gap has come down a fair but from 2010 when it was as high as €118 million. In fairness to the Bavarians, their revenue is also substantially higher, but that does not make it any easier for BVB to compete.

This point is even more relevant on the European stage, where some of the leading clubs can boast wage bills far higher than any in Germany, e.g. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea are all above €200 million (though the Spanish figures are inflated by other sports). To provide an English comparison, Dortmund’s wage bill is about the same as Sunderland, Everton and Fulham, which shows just how extraordinary their achievements have been.


That said, the price of success is that Dortmund’s wage structure will come under pressure, as their policy of signing stars to long-term contracts will mean higher salaries, as seen with Götze’s improved deal.

Dortmund’s executives have also been handsomely rewarded for the club’s success with Watzke earning €2.2 million in 2011/12, including a €1.4 million bonus, and Treß trousering €1.4 million, including an €875,000 bonus.

The other staff cost, player amortisation, is incredibly low at €8 million, which is a perfect demonstration of Dortmund’s conservative transfer policy. As a comparison, player amortisation at big spending Manchester City and Real Madrid is around €100 million, while Bayern book €33 million.


To explain this concept, football clubs do not expense transfer fees completely in the year of purchase, but treat players as assets. So the cost of buying players (in accounting terms) is spread over a number of years by writing-off the transfer fee evenly over the length of the players’ contract via amortisation. As an example, Marco Reus was bought for €17 million on a five-year deal, meaning the annual amortisation is €3.4 million.

In contrast, other expenses of €74 million seem fairly high, though this does include €25 million for match operations, €17 million advertising, €12 million materials (primarily merchandising) and €11 million administration. Note: I have excluded transfer expenses from my definition.


There is further strong evidence of Dortmund’s financial recovery with the decrease in net debt (financial liabilities) from €150 million in 2006 to €42 million in 2012, including an €18 million reduction last season alone. This is made up of €47 million gross debt, largely a state-backed loan for stadium expansion of €32 million (repayable in 2026) and a €12 million fixed-interest loan (repayable in 2013), less €5 million cash. The average weighted interest rate of the long-term liabilities is 5.5%. The club also has access to an additional €15 million overdraft facility.

In fact, the balance sheet is quite strong with net assets of €155 million, including €183 million of property assets, namely the stadium, former offices at “Am Luftbad” and the training ground at Dortmund-Brackel. In addition, the club possesses what it describes as “hidden reserves” among the playing staff, following its policy of recruiting young talent with a lot of potential. Their value in the books is only €26 million, while their real worth in the transfer market is considerably higher – €211 million according to the Transfermarkt website.

Dortmund have generated positive net cash flow for the last two years: €7.8 million in 2011 and €6.4 million in 2012. As a sign of the board’s confidence, the club has proposed a dividend for the first time since it went public in 2000 with a total payment of €3.7 million scheduled to be discussed at the Annual General Meeting in November.

"Weidenfeller - the Roman empire"

The Bundesliga itself is in fine shape, as Klopp explained, “We have the most competitive and the most attractive league in Europe with the best stadiums. The fans are great.” This is reflected in the situation off the pitch: only the Premier League (€2.5 billion) has higher revenue than the Bundesliga (€1.7 billion), while the German league is more profitable at an operating level (€171 million) than its English counterparts (€75 million) with all other major leagues reporting losses.

As part of the German rules, clubs have to provide a balanced budget before each season in order to receive a license, which forces them to act in a sustainable manner, as seen by an average wages to turnover ratio of 50% (compared to 70% in the Premier League).

In addition, the “50+1” rule, which dictates that members must own a minimum of 50% of the shares plus a deciding vote, theoretically prevents the club being subject to the whims of an individual owner and taking on excessive debt. This has very largely worked, e.g. debt levels in the Bundesliga are less than a third of those in the Premier League, but the system is not completely foolproof, as seen by the problems experienced by Dortmund and Schalke among others.


A club as well run as Dortmund should be one of the main beneficiaries of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, which encourage clubs to live within their means. As Watzke explained, “If FFP is implemented and rigorously enforced, we have a chance to be one of the strongest teams in Europe.”

Even the losses made between 2008 and 2010 were within UEFA’s limits: the allowable losses are an aggregate €45 million for the first two years (then three years), but this is only €5 million if losses are not covered by the owners, which might be more relevant here. In any case, they can exclude certain expenses, including depreciation on tangible fixed assets and expenditure on youth development and community activities, which I estimate would be worth around €13-15 million.

Watzke himself has gone further, imploring the regulators to act tough, “UEFA must find the thin line between sponsorship and excessive back-door funding – they must show strength to expel big clubs. No tycoon should be allowed to pump crazy money into a club with sponsorship from five companies he controls. If that happens, financial fair play will fail.” Of course, some might find such a talk a little rich, given Dortmund’s own checkered history, especially as they were given a €2 million loan at the height of their problems by Bayern Munich (of all people).

"Bender - Sven you're young"

As to the future, Dortmund are cautiously optimistic. Watzke sees “additional growth potential” with net profit for 2012/13 likely to be “in the single digit million range”, assuming exits at the group stage of the Champions League and the second round of the DFB Cup.

The chairman said that Dortmund were at the fifth stage of a five-point plan: “The first was the struggle for survival, the second restructuring, the third was development of a sporting philosophy, the fourth implementation and the fifth is sustainability.” This is not just a reference to the club’s financial status, but also the ability to maintain their performance levels on the pitch. It will indeed be a tough challenge to establish themselves in Europe, while also figuring prominently in the race for the Bundesliga title.

The club has attempted to ensure management stability by extending the contracts of the “holy trinity” of Watzke, Zorc and Klopp to 2016, but there are no guarantees in football. If Klopp were to leave, that might be a hammer blow to Dortmund’s ambitions. No manager is irreplaceable, but whoever followed the magnetic Klopp would certainly have a tough act to follow.

"Rolls Reus"

In the meantime, we should simply enjoy the fabulous spectacle at Dortmund, where they have proved that a football club does not have to throw money at the problem, but can win in the right way. First-class management, astute scouting and a belief in youth development have delivered trophies to some of the best fans around, while the team’s dazzling displays have gained admirers throughout Europe.

That’s some accomplishment, especially as they have combined their sporting excellence with a remarkable recovery from near collapse to a solid financial position. Coldplay may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the lyrics from their breakthrough single seem strangely apposite; “Look at the stars/Look how they shine for you/And everything you do/Yeah, they were all yellow.”

87 comments:

  1. Absolutely brilliant article Swiss! Think you do more research on a single article than most Football"journalists" do in a year. Keep it coming!

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  2. One thing that always leaves me wondering is the extremely high other expensives that usually stands as high as the wages. Can you tell why these expenses are so high and what they include?

    Assuming Dortmund will reach the next round in the Champions League this year as well as a top 3 position in the Bundesliga (where they had a very mixed start into the season and are currently ranked 4th behind Bayern, newcomers Frankfurt and rival Schalke) they should at least match the financial succes from last year.

    There will also be some further payments for Lucas Barrios winning the Championship with Evergrande just a few days ago.

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    Replies
    1. Below Burgsmüller has explained the reason for high costs for match operations and advertising. The split in the accounts is as follows (€m):

      Match Operations 25.0
      Advertising 17.4
      Cost of materials (largely merchandising sold 12.5m
      Administration 11.4
      Media, printing & postage 3.7
      Leasing 2.0
      Other 2.0

      Total 73.9

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    2. For details regarding the marketing and stadium deals you can also always read the annual report, page 66, available here:

      http://aktie.bvb.de/eng/Publications/Annual-Reports/Annual-Report-2011-2012-KGaA-Group

      107 and 74 million Euros for Sportfive and stadium due respectively until 2020 / 2026.

      Delete
    3. Thanks. My analysis is based on the consolidated accounts, so I'd looked at similar info on page 148, at least in terms of the marketing deal. Presumably the stadium payment nets out on consolidation.

      Delete
    4. Yup, stadium debts will also be paid in full by the end of 2026, if I remember correctly. Which would coincide roughly with the time frame when the club will have to think about the future of the stadium, i.e. total renovation or even something as drastic as building a new one.

      Delete
    5. Sorry if this sounds like a stupid question, but why would you upgrade the stadium, or move to a new one? In my opinion you have the best club stadium in the world, and I can't see why you would want to upgrade that unless you plan on pulling more money from the fans themselves in a way similar to which Arsenal have..

      Delete
    6. Well, upkeep and renovations for an old stadium will only become more expensive every year - this year the club had to spend a few millions already for necessary improvements, e.g. prevention of fatigue in the steel elements of the south stand and replacement of the video screens.

      Then there is the principle disparity of revenue they can generate in comparison with more modern stadiums like Bayern's arena. Eventually it will be a calculation which solution is more viable.

      I wouldn't expect healthy German clubs to just keep on playing in stadiums that gradually fall into disrepair like what we see today in Italy.

      Delete
  3. first of all great read though some people from munich might have something to say about dortmund developing mats hummels and sven bender...
    one small typo was there, you wrote '2066' instead of 2006 which actually confused me for a second.
    anyway, keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the typo - now corrected.

      Point taken re Hummels and Bender. I have now clarified that comment to tie in more with the point about the BVB Academy developing players aged between 19 and 23 (

      Delete
  4. Resopo: a large amount of marketing revenue is being handed over to Sportfive due to the deal that runs through 2020 (they receive a percentage on every advertising contract). Another large amount, a percentage of match day revenues is paid to the stadium subsidiary.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great read! Thank you.
    Another typo: the contracts of the “holy trinity” were extended til 2016.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Quite right - that was in my notes, but mis-typed. Now corrected.

      Delete
    2. 'm glad we signed Ba, acting decisively and early in the window
      But the job isn’t done quite yet.


      rson (19) of
      Santos, Paulinho (24) of Corinthians and Jean (26) of Fluminense
      represent the key Brazil based options. Fernando Lucas and Felipe
      Anderson are both huge talents, with Brazil age representation and
      should be considered for long term roles, but are both a bit young and
      inexperienced at this stage to mix it at the highest level. Paulinho
      would be ideal, again he’s big, strong and fast and we saw his ability
      at the Club World Cup – competition from the Milanese clubs and Man City
      is the big hurdle. Jean is a bit older but has been a star at
      Fluminense over the last 12 months and recently earned his first cap for
      Brazil, he might be more of a gamble than Paulinho, but he’s got the
      form on the board over the last year. There is also Sao Paulo star
      Casemiro (20) I wouldn’t gamble on at this point, his form has come off
      recently.

      In Europe the talented Brazilian options are Fernandinho (27), Rômulo
      Borges (22), Giuliano (22) and Fernando Reges (25). We all saw
      Fernandinho’s abilities for Shaktar, he’s looking for a move westwards
      and though he’s tweeted about playing in Manchester, a move further
      south would be good, he bring experience and determination. Rômulo and
      Giuliano are both regular (well over the past 6 months or so) starters
      for the Brazilian national team and are performing comfortably in their
      current competitions, the EPL and Chelsea would help them further their
      careers and would provide us with intelligent, young liberos. Porto star
      Fernando Reges is on the other hand, a destroyer, adept at recovering
      the ball from the opposition – he’d be ideal to pair with a flairier
      libero like Romulo or Giuliano (or in the future MacEachran, Romeu or
      Swift), Inter Milan are after him so we’ll have to move quick if we want
      him. It is unfortunate that he currently plays for Porto – cause
      they’re always so easy to deal with in transfer negotiations [massive
      sarcasm], it is even more unfortunate then, that two further options,
      Joao Moutinho and Steven Defour are also currently turning out at the
      Estádio do Dragão.

      The man I’ve yet to mention is Everton’s star
      DM/CM/trequartista/false nine; Marouane Fellaini. There’s little I can
      add to Graham’s article from not too long ago, he’s an ideal fit, though

      Delete
  6. Minor Typo: Şahin was replaced by Gündoğan in Central Midfield.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not a typo, but a deliberate point to highlight Dortmund's ability to keep going even after they've sold their key players. That's why I wrote EFFECTIVELY replaced, here meaning "not explicitly".

      Delete
    2. Ok. Didn't quite get that on the first read :). BTW "Lewandowski - Pole dance" is tacky and funny :)

      Delete
  7. Hi- Sven and his twin Lars were develloped at 1860 Munich, not at Bayern. Great article!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True - that's why I wrote they were FURTHER developed at Dortmund. This was to illustrate the point about the BVB Academy, which is aimed at players between 19 and 23 years old.

      Delete
  8. This is just wow.

    Great article. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Der Grund für die niedrigen Einnahmen im Bereich "Match Day Revenue" liegt woanders. VIP und Business-Seats werden dort nicht, wie bei anderen Vereinen, aufgeführt und fallen beim BVB in den Bereich Werbeeinnahmen. Diskutiert wurde dies z. B. hier: http://forum.westline.de/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=878319&start=75#p1485001

    Ansonsten guter Artikel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I took my match day revenue comparisons from Deloitte's money league analysis. Of course, they're not infallible, but I do know that they check their figures with the clubs and re-allocate revenue between their three categories (match day, broadcasting and commercial) to ensure a like-for-like comparison.

      Delete
    2. Nur als Beispielrechnung:

      Es gibt beim BVB über 3600 Business-Seats. Selbst bei einer nicht kompletten Auslastung kann man von rund 3500 verkauften Tickets für diesen Bereich pro Spieltag ausgehen. Diese sind ohne Mwst normalerweise nicht für unter 200 € pro Platz und Spieltag zu haben.

      3500 * 200 = 700 000 € an Einnahmen alleine für die Business-Seats.

      Dann würden noch rund 800 000 € durch 70 000 Tickets eingenommen werden. Ohne Mwst. wären das rund 11,50 € im Schnitt(!) pro Ticket. Auch wenn man die günstigen Dauerkartenpreise berücksichtigt, dann gehen immer noch mehr als 20 000 Tickets in den freien Verkauf und diese Karten kosten zum großen Teil weit mehr als 30 €.

      Die 1,5 Mio. € sind niemals inkl. Logen etc.. Das kommt einfach nicht hin.

      Delete
  10. So how much to get Klopp to Arsenal and replace Wenger?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Money can´t buy succes mate.

      Delete
    2. Tell that to Real Madrid, Bayern, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter, City, United...

      Delete
  11. Problem is that Klopp can't speak sufficient english.
    As you could recognize the above comments of my fellow germans ;)
    But I gotta admit that I keep on spewing out my garbage as well, so does Klopp. Typical german attitude, obviously that doesn't apply to you Swiss. Well done again!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Swiss,

    United announced their fiscal year end financials last week:

    http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1549107/000104746912009744/a2211282z20-f.htm

    First quarter is due November 14. You usually do a year end, but wonder if it's worth waiting for the 1st quarter to add in a little bit of additional though if there's an trend in them.

    The also give detail on the GM deal:

    "On 26 July 2012, consistent with our strategy to grow our global sponsorship revenue, we entered into an agreement with General Motors for Chevrolet to become our exclusive shirt sponsor, beginning in our 2014/15 season. The term of the agreement runs through the end of the 2020/21 season. Annual fees from our new shirt sponsorship agreement will be $70.0 million in the first season, and will increase by an additional 2.1% in each season thereafter through the term of the agreement. We will also receive approximately $18.6 million in fees in each of the 2012/13 season and 2013/14 season under the terms of our new shirt sponsorship agreement relating to pre-sponsorship support and exposure. Total fees payable through the end of the 2020/21 season under our new shirt sponsorship agreement is approximately $559 million."

    The amazing thing is getting $18.6M + $18.6M as essentially a signing bonus two years in advance of the sponsorship starting.

    There's also the early buyout of their DHL training kit deal.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Love how used Coldplay's line's at the end. :P.. Top stuff mate, brilliant

    ReplyDelete
  14. I would just like to praise you on not swamping your site with Advertisement.

    I read all your posts and cant believe the effort you must go into, to write up such good reads. They have certainly cooled my frustration with Arsenal, now knowing the bigger picture and why football is not as simple as it once was.

    I compare your site to "justarsenal.com" who have such terrible posts of jip and so much advertisement (including audio/video) of which you cant even find amoung them which ones to mute!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I wonder why the P&L numbers for 2007 (and partly for 2008) are so different here than in your previous article on Dortmund from 2010?
    7.1 mlns Profit before Tax here and 11.5 mlns in the older article are quite a difference (other positions have changed quite a bit, too).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that’s right, the figures are a bit different.

      In 2009 Dortmund announced some adjustments to prior year accounts, which I included in my previous review (noted just under the graphic). However, this time I decided that, on balance, it would be less confusing to simply use the figures originally published in the annual report.

      In addition, for 2008 I opted to also include cash flow hedging to give the bottom line result, as opposed to the net profit I previously reported.

      Delete
  16. Great read, Swiss! Love the comment comparing their wages to mid-table PL teams Everton and Sunderland, really makes an outsider appreciate the challenge they have given to Bayern. I was also surprised to see Hoffenheim being the team that has made the most profit from player transfers. Does the Bayern figure take into account the Spanish midfielder, they signed this summer? He alone cost them about 40 million I thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Andrew.

      Yes, the Bayern figures include €40m for Javi Martinez. Other major signings in last three years: 2012/13 Mario Mandzukic 13m, Xherdan Shaqiri 11.8m; 2011/12 Manuel Neuer 22m, Jerome Boateng 13.5m; 2010/11 Luis Gustavo 17m.

      Hoffenheim's large sales over this period include Carlos Eduardo (Rubin Kazan) 20m, Luis Gustavo (Bayern) 17m and Gylfi Sigurdsson (Tottenham) 10m.

      Delete
  17. Thank you for this great articles.. deep inside Borussia Dortmund.

    Its is to say that apart of 34 Million net profit, squad value has risen dramatically last year probably at 250 million yet, book value however below 50 million.
    Virtual net profit 2010 - 2012 for Dortmund was some 200 Million in stead of 44 million euro....
    A current market cap of 150 million euros (about the real market value of three or four of its top players) one could argue tat real price/earnings of Dortmund is near one.
    Note that Arsenal, Manchester Unite f.e. have price/earnings at 50, and many others are even highly loss making.
    Dortmunds tremendous hidden profit potential will become visible as soon as some of the players will be sold.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Probably readers will be interested in this site on Borussia Dortmund..

    It also contains comparative financial data and valuation data on some other big clubs which are at stock market. One easily can argue that Dortmund, already being financial champions, and now also striving into European top of football, currently has an exceptionally weird valuation.

    http://borussia-shareholder.org/

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for just another great article.

    That said, you wrote: "Despite higher bonus payments, the wage bill of less than €80 million can still be described as “merely average” for the Bundesliga."

    This just isn´t true. It WOULD be "merely average" for the Premier League, obviously. I am pretty sure even the likes of Everton "we have no money" FC can compete with that wage bill.

    In Bundesliga terms however, this is a lot of money. Bayern Munich obviously pays much more than that (about 160 mill. I think), but nobody else comes close to them. Schalke 04 did pay 91 million in 2011 (http://www.schalke04.de/fileadmin/user_upload/medialib/Verein/2011_Jahresabschluss.pdf), but I think this had a lot to do with including the very big coaching team, having a HUGE squad (35++ first team players - very uncommon in Germany) and playing in the Champions League. Vfl "Volkswagen" Wolfsburg may or may not come close to this (Diego alone is alledged to be on a 5 million net contract), but I don´t think anybody else comes close to that.

    So in short, an 80 million wage bill is at least top 4 money in the Bundesliga, so qualifying for the Champions League, which CEO Watzke just announced as the new goal for this season, would be merely normal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The 80 million wage bill was for all company employees in 2011/12. The first squad including coaches was around 62 million euros. About 20% of the wages were bonus payments due to winning both medals (and the bonus paid was in some part balanced out by bonus payments from the main sponsors).

      The official wage budget for 2012/13 according to Watzke is around 48 million Euros - which is still quite a bit lower than Schalke, Wolfsburg and probably Leverkusen and on a level with Hamburg and Stuttgart. I have no large doubt though that some payments (e.g. image rights) for contract extensions with Götze and others will not be accounted for in the wage bill but rather hidden away under "other expenses".

      Delete
    2. It´s pretty funny how you say 1) "they don´t pay all that much" and 2) "they hide their large payments from the public" ("other expenses") lol

      As for the 80 million including payments to all company employees - that´s the same for the Schalke figures I mentioned in my post above. They did pay 90 million at the very peak of the Magath regime (obviously prone to excesses in that regard) and with huge sucess in the Champions League (read: MASSIVE bonus payments). I really doubt they pay more than that now since a huge clear out has taken place.

      I did mention Wolfsburg (who clearly pay top dollar but have the advantage of just hiding in that cosy little 100 billion revenue Volkswagen annual report lol), but I seriously doubt Leverkusen pays all that much right now. Just a hint, german national team striker Andre Schürrle could have tripled his Leverkusen wages by moving to Chelsea.

      So again, Bayern is the obvious No. 1, but Dortmund is on par with the rest of the top. Qualifying for the Champions League (Top 3 finish) will only match their positon in the "wage bill table".

      Delete
    3. Let's not argue about something nobody can prove. Schalke's extreme 91 million season was the one where they reached 14th in the Bundesliga, but you are not seriously trying to argue that Schalke pays higher boni for reaching the CL semi final than BVB does for winning the league?

      I have no doubt though that BVB and Schalke are on comparative wage budget levels now, as Schalke has been downsizing since Magath.

      Wolfsburg though has clearly the second biggest budget in the league. Magath's insanity wasn't even as bad as Dieter Hoeness before him.

      Leverkusen has handsomely outbid a lot of other Bundesliga clubs to sign Schürrle and Wollscheid - I would suppose Bayer pays higher signing-on fees than other clubs and high wages on average for somewhat mediocre players like Toprak, Kadlec or Castro. It is also very obvious that Bayer can always ask the parent company for transfer funds when needed.

      I would assume almost any player in the Bundesliga can at least double his wage if he moves to a big English club. The combined wages paid by the ten biggest English clubs are certainly at least doubling those paid by the ten biggest clubs in the Bundesliga.

      Hiding some payments from public eye: almost all clubs are doing that, I suspect (agent fees etc).

      Delete
    4. As most clubs do publish accounts, you can find numbers. EG Here:
      http://www.zeit.de/sport/fussball-kosten

      The only Bundesliga clubs with significantly higher wage costs than Dortmund are Bayern and Schalke. A maybe for Wolfsburg, I suspect the Zeit number there is an estimate. Then there are ~5 other clubs with similar wages as Dortmund, so around 8 clubs with at least a similar wage budget, which is almost half of the league... Still, I find it a stretch to call Dortmunds wage bill Bundesliga average, especially considering that they did pay quite a bit more than the budgeted amount in the last 2 seasons.

      Delete
    5. "I would assume almost any player in the Bundesliga can at least double his wage if he moves to a big English club. The combined wages paid by the ten biggest English clubs are certainly at least doubling those paid by the ten biggest clubs in the Bundesliga."

      The Bundesliga plays on average younger, and has saved on transfer fees.
      So those contracts will go up also if they stay.

      "if he moves to a big English club" yah and WTF? has the EPL 10big clubs?

      Any player in the EPL that plays for a Top10 Club maybe 8.9.10. could also have much higher wages if he plays for a realy big club in EPL.

      Delete
  20. Hi - great work. I have a question. Under commercial revenue in that graph where you compare with Bayern why do you have Allianz Arena as an income source but not Signal Iduna Park? I am referring to the blue section of that bar representing Bayern as there is no equivalent for Dortmund.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Awesome, that you wrote about Dortmund - love them. Oh and thanks also for Barcelona's article in previous post. I was wondering if you could write about Málaga in the future, I'd be very interested in what's going on in that club with Sheik's Al Thani paying/not paying players + their accounts to be studied by Europe's footballing authorities /according to Marca/ - it'd interesting to have such a informative article /like all of your articles are/, about this club..

    ReplyDelete
  22. great article as usual:)

    Do you maybe have any detailed figures about the new CL TV deal for Germany...

    as you wrote "The Champions League will be worth even more, as the overall prize money for the 2012 to 2015 three-year cycle has increased by 22%, but it will be higher for German clubs, as their TV deals have risen considerably, thus boosting their market pool."

    How much TV money will be shared between german clubs this season [considering there are only 3 left in the CL].

    ReplyDelete
  23. great article again...

    Can you tell us how much is the new CL TV deal worth for German clubs?..you said it got higher.

    Any numbers on how much it was worth the previous cycle...and how much for the next 3 years?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  24. Great Read. I took time off from watching an NFL game to read this article, and afterwards I can say it was time well spent (not that the game was boring). Your analysis is inspiring.

    I happen to be an Arsenal fan but I have a special spot for Dortmund in my heart as well. I'm all for football teams going about the right way of competing both on and off the field; a quality I feel both Arsenal & Dortmund are achieving in spite of their affluently hostile opponents. I'm of the belief that there'll come a time such teams will be sports powerhouses and this article goes a long way to say that time will be sooner rather than later. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Jurgen Klopp - New Age in BVB. 2008/2009 Borussia 6 place in Bundesliga, next season 5. place 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 winner http://stadiony-swiata.pl/tag/borussia-dortmund/ Absolutely brilliant article.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Absolutly brilliant article Swiss!!!

    http://www.franciscorobredo.com/

    ReplyDelete
  27. @Burgsmüller, on average the squad size is bigger in England. (sure also more games, useless cups, 2more league games) and ofcourse also income & wage bill.

    But I'm sure that the average income of an Bundesliga Player is NOT just 1/2 of the average of an EPL Player.

    It's between 30% or maybe 35% higher.

    ReplyDelete
  28. You don't really hear many German clubs going bust do you. They appear to be run really well, fair play to them!

    ReplyDelete
  29. What Dortmund has done is fantastic.I deeply wish my own club could follow such a model and i agree with simon above, you don't hear of German clubs going bust !

    ReplyDelete
  30. It's been quite a long time since the last update to the blog.
    All ur blog is quite interesting and informative. Is there any clue when the next update will be uploaded? about Juventus maybe? (I'm a Juve fan :))

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great blog, could you possible do an article on Benfica? We are the biggest portuguese club after all and there's been a lot of talk these days on how Benfica and especially Porto are going through rough times.

    Thx!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Another excellent and informative read.
    Get well soon

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've been refreshing every day - when's the next one?! Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Arsenal likes to brag about responsible finances but BVB makes them laughable. reasonable tickets,better players,lower wagebill(80m compared to 130m pounds for Arsenal,better manager,better fans,bigger stadium

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL @ "better manager".

      Delete
    2. You can't compare BVB and Arsenal. Different costs, taxes and leagues. The PL does have the most competitive teams (by number). over 30 (from 38) very competitive league games per season plus all the 'cup' games. Whereas BVB rarely has more than 10 very competitive games per league season. I'm not saying Arsenal is better (or worse) but it just is not comparible.
      Having lived in Germany for some years I hold german football in high regard.

      Delete
  35. When can we expect another article?
    Missing something decent to read

    ReplyDelete
  36. I agree, I miss it!! Happy new year Swiss and to your readers!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I am quite a Dortmund supporter myself and I thought I knew quite something about my club. But there is this Englishman in Switzerland who knows it all. Brilliant!

    This is the best article I have ever read about football and business. Please, give us some moere of this superb stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Dortmund is an example to most football clubs, only spending what and when they need and with surgical precision, almost never hiring flops.
    I am quite interested in following their career in the next few years in the champions league.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Fantastic article ! This shows what's really going on behind the scenes of the football business. We've been experiencing some extreme changes in players wages, attendances and transfer fees... Football is such a massive business isn't it !

    ReplyDelete
  40. Swiss, just let us know if the blog is dead so that we won't keep checking back to see if there is something new. We hope all is well and that you'll keep producing your typical fantastic stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for those kinds words - much appreciated.

      I am taking a sabbatical from blogging. In fact, following a bout of ill health, including three weeks in hospital, I am currently re-assessing a few things in my life, including whether I continue the blog in future.

      It takes a lot of time to research each piece, which is a task I enjoy, but the demands of a young family and having to earn a living are making this increasingly difficult.

      Delete
    2. I'm surprised that you haven't gone 'full-time'! I keep expecting you to pop up explaining the FFP on BBC Radio Five Live; a Martin Lewis of the football finance world.

      Fully empathise with the stresses of family and work life, but the quality and diligence of your research and your ability to understand and explain financial concepts will be a huge loss.

      My favourite blog by far.

      Delete
    3. Echoing the others: my favorite futbol blog.

      Delete
    4. So sorry to hear about the health issues. I hope things are improving now.

      I'd just like to reinforce what others have said, that this is by far and away the most lucid and insightful analysis of football finance anywhere, a true world-beater. But I'd fully understand if it was too much to continue with as the research and writing are clearly a very major undertaking.

      Delete
  41. Family and health are definitely more important...well just! ;-) I hope you are better. I think all of us miss your fantastic work but also understand there are priorities in life.
    What about an article on my beloved Liverpool? Just joking! There are so many interesting things happening in football: Arsenal having another blank year, Man U leading the premiership without really being convincing (Premier League level?), new deals in England, Bayern Munich having a fantastic season, Juventus reborn, internal fights at Madrid, and my local team, Nice, 4th in the french league :)
    Keep well!

    ReplyDelete
  42. It is quite impressive in 103 years. it is the first double that they have. but It is nice to write history about one of the biggest team ever.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Swiss:

    Will Liverpool's interesting books entice you into coming out of hiatus? :)

    ReplyDelete
  44. plz come back swiss,

    i hope you are returned to health, and of course family comes first. maybe shorter and less frequent articles might fit your life-balance better and enable the 'swiss-junkies' to get their fix of well-researched and quality articles on the business of football.

    the 'blogosphere' has reduced in quality in you absence

    regards

    Xauss

    ReplyDelete
  45. I agree with most of the above comments. Great, great blog. Insightful, well written and enjoyable.

    Sorry to hear about your health issues. Hope you get well soon. Take care of yourself and your family.

    I still hope you will return to impart your football finance masterpieces.

    Thanks,

    Daniel Sisarello

    ReplyDelete
  46. Congratulations to him, I hope that he can keep it up with this title and can get the double.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Excellent blog. So in depth, making even finance appear interesting.

    All the best

    Pedro @golazoargentino

    ReplyDelete
  48. I cant see Dortmund being able to hold on to key players such as Lewandowski and Goetze, unless they manage to win the Champions League this year. If they win the CL then could we be seeing a return to the top of European football for Dortmund? I sure hope so!

    ReplyDelete
  49. ciao Swiss Rambler! I spam your blog every time i can despite the old post

    in bocca al lupo per i tuoi prossimi progetti!


    Betlemme

    ReplyDelete
  50. Spectacular article. Very enlightening. More please.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Great article. I hope that your health improves soon and you find energy to write again. But family and work comes first of course!

    ReplyDelete
  52. WOW - i'm a Borussia Dortmund Fan since i was a young boy, but its long time ago, that i have found a blogpost like this one. Great informations - for a german fan, too. Thx so much for this post full of statistics about the money flow of the BVB.

    Marco

    ReplyDelete
  53. Swiss,,A whole jar of German beer for your magnificent article. It's a pleasure that you covered BVB in such a broad range and explains from top to toe about BVB comeback. They deserve that and they are the unsung hero's.

    Waiting for your next exploration.

    ReplyDelete

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