On Tour With FC Bayern: Part I – The Reason

Marc Separator July 27, 2022

Since I’ve been a part of Miasanrot, I have come to expect a lot of varying opinions on these tours. For most of the German/European market, these tours are regarded with anything from outright contempt to heavy skepticism. In the global market, these tours are looked at generally very positively and in some cases enviously.

So where does that leave us? The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle. As a part of not only this blog, but also as a board member of the DC Bayern fan club here in the U.S., I had a unique opportunity to experience the tour first hand.

In preparation for this article, I asked my fellow authors here on Miasanrot what questions they might have or find interesting for this article. My goal is to provide insight into what works, what doesn’t and the broader overall picture/impact of the tour.

Who Is It For?

The Supporters Abroad

The first obvious answer is the supporters like myself who live abroad. I am among those who are fortunate to have the ability both financially and in terms of time to be able to attend matches in Germany.

However the majority of supporters here may never have that chance. These tours provide some people the only chance they will ever have of seeing the players that they watch every week in person. While, we all can see that the matches themselves are meaningless and the quality of competition questionable, the ability to see the team play in flesh, on grass, under lights, is an entirely different experience to watching them on TV.

Sadio Mané lines up a shot in his first appearance for Bayern.

It makes the fans feel more connected to the club, to the players, to the fans in Munich and to Baveria and Germany in general.

While this may not make sense to some of you, I would imagine you might have seen a similar situation when the NFL plays in Europe. Having the chance to see a sport that you don’t have regular access to outside of television provides an entirely different perspective and gives you a different appreciation for the game as a whole.

The Club

The second obvious answer is the club. Over the last decade, Bayern’s global market has increased dramatically. A big part of that is because of the ease in which people are now able to watch matches. 15 or 20 years ago, it was very challenging to watch a match here in the U.S. The Champions League and a few English Premier League matches were about all you could regularly rely on.

With streaming and an increasing interest in the sport, it is now possible to watch virtually any league and at nearly any level you wish. Exposure to the highest level that the sport can offer has dramatically increased interest in markets all over the world.

Bayern has then doubled down on that by bringing the club to places like the U.S. and Asia in order to expand that growth. Opening offices in New York and Shanghai. Encouraging the development of fan clubs outside of Germany. Engaging with those fan clubs through their offices abroad.

While it might seem small or even artifical, the connection that this provides to the club feels real to the people here. It makes us feel like we’re part of the family. Like someone actually cares if we support this club.

That then eventually translates to money for the club. The obvious big monetary advantage is from television rights. The more interest in Bayern and the Bundesliga, the more money they will ultimately gain from the sale of TV rights abroad.

It also has a significant impact on the sale of merchandise as it provides billions of potential new consumers worldwide. Moreover this can increase sponsorship income as the bigger the brand for Bayern the more interested and more money will be offered to become a sponsor for FC Bayern.

Who Is It Not For?

The Players

There is no doubt that the immediate answer here is the players. It’s the part that I personally, and I think many who take the time to examine these questions, struggle with the most. While I think it’s a stretch to say there is no advantage to the players, the relative benefit is extremely small.

For the most part they are only incrementally increasing their profile, whereas the wear on their bodies and expectations on their time is extremely high.

The players endured extreme heat and a grueling schedule while in America.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

It is a lot of travel on their bodies. The heat in the places that they travel to play is extreme. The fields that they play on are sometimes not extremely conducive to the sport increasing the risk of injury. The activities they are required to attend after long days in training and travel are exhausting and tedious.

There were several times during the tour that I genuinely felt bad for the players. They looked exhausted. And it’s no wonder why. The whole ordeal must feel very unfulfilling and pointless to them. Luckily this year at least didn’t coincide with a major summer tournament, but there is no doubt that these tours still put excess strain on the players both mentally and physically.

The Local Supporters

The second answer, that many of you might feel is that there is no benefit for the supporters in Germany/Munich. If anything, I could see how this might actually make them feel unappreciated in comparison and very worried about the points mentioned regarding the players.

I’m well aware that many in Germany view these tours as nothing but a money grab for the club. Realistically, I have no argument against that. That is exactly what it is. Ultimately every benefit mentioned above is completely related to monetary growth potential.

While I know that is not a popular topic or something that many people have sympathy for, it is also a necessary evil. Without the economic impact that comes from the business side of football, the club would slide into irrelelvance in Europe. Every league outside of England is at an extreme disadvantage due to the massive television rights deals that the Premier League enjoys.

Without these tours and global outreach, that gap would continue to grow. So while a part of me understands the feelings that some have in Europe regarding these tours, and even the globalization efforts as a whole, the economic impact can’t be ignored if Bayern are to remain competitive with the best clubs in the world.

Check back tomorrow for Part II where I will give you some insight as to the actual experience for the supporters during the tour.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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  1. Hey Marc
    Just come across this article.
    It’s great that you describe this tour from your / US supporters point of view. It may widen a bit the sometimes very narrow views in good old Germany.

    Looking forward to read the next part

    Answer Icon1 ReplyClose child-comments
    1. Hey @918,

      Look who the cat dragged in. Welcome to our cozy, little English section of the miasanrot dormitory. You have very good reason to look forward to the second part. You’re gonna be envious seeing Marc chewing the fat with Lucas and Joe the bro K. (That’s after he had some beers with Stephan Lehmann.) Mingling with the stars he is, our Marc, always mingling with the stars…

  2. Hi 918, I’m glad that this perspective was interesting to you and hope that you enjoy the rest as well. Giving the local audience a little bit of insight into the tour was exactly my goal.

  3. @Marc and @Alex
    Just read the third part. Thanks very much for sharing your experiences and perspectives.
    As Kahn and Jung pointed out, the US market will and shall be predominant in the planning of the club- and rightly so.

    I sincerely hope that we are able to expand and profit from the development further.

    What do you think about a possible deeper relationship with the Hunt family? Personally I would fancy them buying a small stake in the club!

    On another note, the ESPN Interviews are so much better than most of the stuff we „enjoy“ here.

    Keep on going even if BFW seem to dominate the landscape there.

  4. Thanks for reading and your kind words. It makes sense to me as well to continue to expand their presence in the US. I think its a releationship and market that they can grow and continue to profit from.

    An increased relationship with the Hunt group is possible in the future though I think there are some hurdles with that at the moment as well. For me the more likely shift in the near future is a strengthening of the relationship in terms of player movement and training. I also would not be surprised if the next trip to the US sees them stop in Dallas or possibly Kansas City again.

    It does strike me that the interviews and access to players here tend to be more informative than the things I’ve seen out of Germany. Perhaps it has something to do with the timing and surroundings feeling less familiar and that whatever they say is likely to be less scrutinized than the things they say normally. That’s just a guess though.

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