On Tour With FC Bayern: Part I – The Reason
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.