In the last ten seasons, three different clubs have won the Premier League; five have won the Bundesliga.

Eight teams have finished inside the top four in the Premier League; ten in the Bundesliga.

It may not seem like much, but it does perhaps make all the difference. While the Premier League is not as much of a two-horse race as La Liga or the SPL, it isn’t exactly wide open either.

The Manchester United/Arsenal rivalry became Man Utd/Chelsea, and now it’s Man Utd/Man City. Tottenham have briefly challenged but fallen away. The challenges from Spurs and Man City represent a shift in power, but also highlight the decline of sides like Liverpool and Arsenal.

One of the reasons the Bundesliga is a more open competition is that clubs are made it live within their means. It receives far less in both matchday and TV revenue, with a licencing agreement meaning all clubs are on more of a level playing field. The Bundesliga receives just under €600m in television income; the Premier League: almost €2bn.

Around 50% of Bundesliga clubs’ revenue is spent on players wages, amongst the lowest in Europe (certainly the lowest of the big five leagues) and well below the 70% outlined by Uefa’s Financial Fair Play.

Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian, said: “The licensing system levels the playing field somewhat as it forces clubs to live within their means. This does not make everyone the same but increases the chances of bigger teams slipping up as they can’t simply throw money at it in January, for example.”

The counter argument, of course, is that the Bundesliga has less quality. Bayern Munich were the last German side to win the Champions League, and that was back in 2001. Manchester United and Liverpool have both won the competition since then, while Manchester United have reached the final a further two times, Liverpool made another appearance in the final, and Arsenal reached it in 2006.

Clark Whitney,’s German football editor, expanded on this, saying: “As much as I hate to admit it, quality does play a role. The Bundesliga was relatively poor in the mid-2000s, which made for a more unpredictable league, but one in which there just wasn’t a team with the class to contend. Bayern didn’t have hopes of winning the Champions League, and did just enough in the transfer market to succeed. Of course, they have repeatedly failed to defend their title, primarily due to their refusal to bring in adequate squad depth to take some weight off the stars’ shoulders after a big tournament like Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

“Things are changing now, of course, as teams like Dortmund are able to produce top class line-ups for pennies, thanks to good scouts and the quality of youth being produced all over Germany.

“There are some other differences, however: culturally, clubs see a match against Bayern as an opportunity, not a death sentence. They give an extra 10% in such games – you won’t see opponents fielding reserves in Germany when they face a top side, unlike what we’ve seen at times in England and Spain.”



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