German Football League chief wants more competition for Bayern Munich
German Football League CEO Christian Seifert has urged Bundesliga clubs to increase the level of competition for runaway leaders Bayern Munich, while also praising Premier League sides for their "solidarity" over TV money distribution.
Bayern, winners of 25 Bundesliga titles since 1963, moved a step closer towards their fifth consecutive title at the weekend, increasing their lead at the top to 13 points with a 1-0 win at Borussia Monchengladbach, while nearest challengers RB Leipzig suffered a surprise 3-0 defeat at lowly Werder Bremen.
The rest of the Bundesliga has to play catch-up, according to Seifert, who says the Bavarians' continued dominance does not help the perception of the league.
"It's not up to Bayern to change it," Seifert told kicker. "Five teams eye the Premier League trophy every season, three in Italy and two in Spain. However, in Germany 17 clubs declare that Bayern have no competition. This need to change at some stage."
Seifert talked openly about German football's 50+1 ownership model, which stipulates that more than 50 percent of a club must be owned by its members.
Exceptions currently exist for company-owned clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, while others like Hamburg and Hoffenheim continue to be heavily bankrolled by wealthy individuals.
There has been controversy this season over promoted Leipzig -- founded in 2009 when Austrian energy drink giants Red Bull rebranded fifth-tier side SSV Markranstadt -- because they prevent non-Red Bull employees from becoming members with voting rights. Officially, there are 17 people with voting rights and all are attached to the Red Bull company.
"The league is stable enough to honestly discuss the pros and cons of the 50+1 rule," Seifert said. "But there are important achievements closely associated with 50+1. For example, we definitely have to maintain our socially acceptable ticket prices. Clubs cannot be allowed to become an object of speculation -- the Bundesliga means too much to people for that to happen."
Seifert believes the Bundesliga will benefit from the forthcoming Champions League reforms, which come into force in the 2018-19 season and will see 16 of the 32 clubs coming from the top four European leagues.
"Germany is not a loser here," Seifert said, citing the Bundesliga's four pending Champions League slots from an 18-team league compared to other 20-team leagues around Europe. "You could say that the gap gets bigger. But it is not helpful comparing the smallest clubs with the biggest. If you take away a few percent from big clubs and share with smaller ones, those on the receiving end will not get any nearer to the big teams."
However, Seifert added: "UEFA must accept criticism from smaller leagues about not being correctly integrated."
Seifert believes "the most solidarity is shown in the most commercial league in Europe: in the Premier League, because foreign TV rights money were distributed equally among the 20 Premier League clubs."
He also praised the owner-operated U.S. model for "keeping payments equal to make leagues as exciting as possible," adding: "However, you can't compare U.S. professional sport with Europe because their leagues don't measures themselves against others."
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.