Bayern Munich plan China tour as Bundesliga eyes Asian expansion

Reuters , Tuesday 10 Feb 2015

Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski hugs goal scorer David Alaba as they walk with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben (RtoL) during their German Bundesliga first division soccer match against VfB Stuttgart in Stuttgart February 7, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

German champions Bayern Munich will tap into a growing demand for their brand in Asia with a tour of China in July as the Bundesliga looks to accelerate growth in the world's most populated continent.

Bayern, who last year opened an office in the United States eyeing the American market, are Germany's richest club with a turnover of more than half a billion euros in the previous season.

"It is clear, just like we did last year in the United States, we will do a tour of China in the second half of July," Bayern executive board member, responsible for internationalisation and strategy, Joerg Wacker told Bild newspaper.

"We will most likely play matches in Beijing and Shanghai. There are more than 170 million football fans in China, almost 90 million Bayern sympathisers. Football will soon be a school subject there. So we see a huge potential there," he said.

Bayern are not the only German team to cast their eye on Asia with Borussia Dortmund opening an office in Singapore, assisted in its expansion by sponsor Puma and the sportswear maker's own global network.

Several big name German clubs, including Bayern, Hamburg SV and Schalke 04, have also moved their winter training camps from sunny Spain, Portugal or Turkey to Asia and the Gulf states of Qatar and Dubai in recent seasons.

Bayern have also played friendly matches in India and Saudi Arabia in recent years.

For both Bayern and Dortmund, the only German team listed on the stock exchange which posted a turnover of just over 250 million last season, creating new ways of making money is key to continuing their growth.

Both Bayern's and Dortmund's home games are always sold out and sponsors, such as Adidas, Audi, Puma and Evonik have bought stakes in them.

But to tap into the seemingly insatiable appetite of fans for the Bundesliga, which recorded a 10th consecutive year of growth, and in turn create new streams of revenue, they have to expand and look beyond the borders of Germany.

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told Reuters last year it made sense using sponsors' network to trigger this expansion.

"For us it was important to secure growth as well as access to international networks of these companies," Watzke said.

The Bundesliga is still lagging behind the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga in terms of international interest, promotion and revenues from foreign broadcasting rights but Wacker said this needed to change.

"The Bundesliga has to have more self-confidence internationally. We are the World Cup winners," he said.

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