50+1: Is a major structure change en-route at Bayern Munich?

When Bayern Munich, along with 1860 Munich and the Bavarian state, decided at the turn of the millennium to build a new stadium, it signified the clubs intentions of continuing the huge success that made them so famous worldwide in the previous four decades.

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The now 75,000 capacity Allianz Arena has been active since the 2005-2006 season and is a large contributing factor to the twelve Bundesliga titles that Bayern have won since the move from the Olympiastadion to the Northern-Bavaria based Allianz. Yet this is only a piece of what makes the Bavarian side Germanys most winningest club.

The clubs motto of “Mia san Mia” or “we are who we are” is a perfect synopsis of what has made the most successful German club on the pitch, equally so successful off the pitch.

In a world where football clubs so often lack a true identity with managers and owners regularly changing faces, Bayern regularly keep ex-players in positions of power such as legendary former goalkeeper and current club CEO Oliver Kahn.

“I am deeply connected with the club and it has decisively shaped my life.” said Kahn. “Bayern is about many things: sporting and financial success, solidarity with the fans, a responsible approach towards the club’s history and values – that is what FC Bayern stands for.”

These are just a few of the sixteen cultural principles which line the walls at Bayern’s training ground, a little north of the city of Munich, serving as a daily reminder to both players and staff as to what and who the Bavarian club represent.

Being a part of the club is just as much about being a part of the ever growing Bayern community. In truth, Bayern have always been synonymous with Bavarian culture and this can be seen every October as the men’s team regularly appear at famous local festival Oktoberfest.

It’s no wonder why Bayern have become such a well-liked club in contrast with that of other European giants, as the club boast one of the cheapest season tickets in German football at €145.

This is a stark contrast to that of England’s elite clubs. Arsenal top the list of season ticket prices at a whopping €1,000, with Tottenham Hotspurs, Liverpool and Chelsea all coming in at over €700.

West Ham United currently have the lowest season ticket prices in the Premier League at €382 – or over two and a half seasons of Bayern Munich football.

However, this is not to say that Bayern Munich are without their faults and are a perfect football club, in truth the perfect football club probably doesn’t exist, such is the topsy-turvy nature of modern football.

At the clubs most recent AGM, a motion regarding the clubs association with Qatar Airways was ignored by club officials, something which left the some 780 club members more than aggrieved at current club president Herbert Hainer.

With so much of Bayern Munich being owned by its fans (roughly 75%) and the undoubted pressure to compete financially, the club could potentially be eyeing up an attempt to relax the 50+1 rule.

The 50+1 rule is a long term rule which has been debated intensely in the recent years, the rule is centered on fan ownership rather than that of a multi-national company. In essence, making sure that every club has a face and doesn’t become an entity which is solely for financial gain or gaining good graces whilst committing human rights atrocities.

German clubs in the Bundesliga are required to be majority fan-owned, sixteen of the current eighteen top flight sides adhere to this ruling with both Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg gaining exemptions due to the longevity of both clubs owners being involved with the respective clubs.

This is not the first time that Bayern have sought a potential loophole in the 50+1 ruling with former CEO and club legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge stating in 2017 that it should be up to the individual club themselves rather than the Bundesliga officials.

Was this sowing a potential seed for Bayern abandoning the 50+1 ruling? Or shall the perennial Bundesliga winners maintain the delicate balance between fan-ownership and European success that they have done for so much of their illustrious history? It remains to be seen if an enormous structure change is en-route at one of football’s last remaining institutions.

The Author

Mark O'Connor

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