Michael Ballack has risked the wrath of many Bundesliga fans by claiming that the German soccer league is in danger of becoming a La Liga-style two-horse race, and that the dominance of Bayern Munich is bad for the league.
Ballack was giving an interview to CNN World Sport and made it clear he feels having only two teams contesting the title every year is bad for the league as a whole:
“In Germany we have a situation now where Borussia Dortmund and Bayern are far, far more away from the other teams, and that’s what we don’t want to see in the Bundesliga … These last years we could see a lot of surprises, and from the bottom (a team) could beat the first one. It was exciting and the Bundesliga was good to see. Bayern Munich is heading away a little bit so we will see how it develops in the future.”
It’s quite clear how Ballack feels, but is he being realistic or is this just paranoia?
Ballack’s feelings are not generally synonymous with those of other leagues, but there are rumblings in some circles that all the major leagues are actually becoming a little stagnant and dominated by one or two clubs alone. This is certainly true of the Primera Division in Spain with Real Madrid and Barcelona the dominant forces and other clubs having little chance of finishing above them.
Serie A is also starting to follow a trend with Juventus the dominant team there, showing little sign of relinquishing their grip on the Scudetto. The English Premier League is slightly different, as there are three or possibly four teams who have the potential to compete for the title; but even still, in terms of true dominance, there’s only been Manchester United to consider in England in the last 20 years.
So it would seem that Ballack’s fears are well-founded and the European leagues are being dominated by one or two teams each, making the leagues a little predictable and easy to forecast. This is where the new financial fair-play rules should, over time, benefit the clubs who invest time and effort in the development of home-grown players. It should prevent teams who have the backing of sugar daddies from continuing to dominate simply because they can afford a £40 million striker.
The idea of putting everyone on a level footing and only allowing clubs to spend what they generate is a good one in principal, but there is also one almighty flaw. The revenues generated by the middle clubs like Norwich City are approximately £70 million including commercial and television income; yet if we compare that to Manchester United’s yearly revenue, standing at a staggering £350 million, it’s easy to see the problem.
Regardless of the new financial fair play rules, the main clubs’ massive revenues still allow them to unbalance the playing field and spend these vast sums of money on the world’s best players. While these revenues remain oceans apart, there will always be one or two teams dominating each league.