The Bundesliga 2017/18: A commercial guide

As Germany’s top soccer division gets back underway, SportsPro presents our comprehensive commercial preview of every club in the division.

The Bundesliga 2017/18: A commercial guide

German soccer’s top-tier Bundesliga is widely renowned for its passionate fans and exemplary business models.

Over the past season, all of its clubs have been adding lucrative sponsors to their regional and global sponsorship portfolios. While the league has always produced strong sides on the pitch it is also - along with England’s Premier League and La Liga in Spain - well positioned as one of the financial powerhouses of international club soccer.

According to the German Football League’s (DFL) 2016/17 end of financial year report, the Bundesliga’s 18 clubs posted a record €3.24 billion (US$3.8 billion) in total revenue last year - which is up 23.7 per cent from the previous year’s €2.62 billion (US$3.1 billion) - with 13 teams surpassing the €100 million (US$118 million) revenue threshold.

16 of the 18 clubs earned an annualised profit and on the on the basis of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) all 18 clubs were in the black. Professional soccer contributes more than €1 billion in taxes and charges to the German government, with the Bundesliga clubs generating four times more profit after tax than in the prior year at €206.2 million (US$243.3 million).

The 2017/18 Bundesliga season will mark the first year that the DFL’s new four-year broadcast rights deal will come into to play. The agreement is worth €1.16 billion (US$1.36 billion) per season and will represent an 85 per cent income rise for Germany's top two soccer leagues. The DFL believes that the television rights deal will help the German clubs to close the gap on their vastly more affluent English rivals.

Meanwhile, as in the Premier League, the DFL has changed its regulations regarding the sale of sponsorship space on shirt sleeves. Whereas logistics firm Hermes previously took a spot on the sleeves of every Bundesliga club in a centralised deal, teams are now entitled to go to market individually to find partners for that inventory. Seven clubs had taken up that opportunity as the 2017/18 season dawned. Schalke 04’s deal with online grocer Allyouneedfresh, reportedly worth an annual US$5.5 million, is particularly notable, including as it does a stipulation that payment chips will be inserted into the sleeves of replica shirts so that fans can pay for items at Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins Arena.

While clubs are earning more money off the pitch, Bayern Munich have maintained their vice-like grip on the domestic league. The Bavarian giants won their fifth consecutive Bundesliga title and their 27th in total in 2016/17.

The Bundesliga champions received €100 million (US$118 million) in prize money while runners-up RB Leipzig earned just €29.6 million (US$34.9 million) because they only joined the top flight last year and most of the cash is distributed via a five-year ranking system.

Until a 3-0 loss to Bayern in December it was the controversial RB Leipzig that were the league’s leaders, although their rapid success has not been positively received in Germany. Leipzig’s unpopularity among German soccer fans has arisen primarily from their ownership model. The Saxony outfit are solely owned by soft drink giant Red Bull, which has placed its corporate imprint on many aspects of the team’s identity. The set-up goes against the traditional ownership model in German soccer.

Since the foundation of the Bundesliga in 1963, the majority of the league’s members have adhered to a ‘50+1’ ownership model, which requires a group representing the club’s members and supporters to own at least 50 per cent plus one additional share of the football company, thereby holding a majority of voting rights whatever the breakdown of inward investment from elsewhere.

RB Leipzig are not the sole exception to this, although other outliers have tended to be clubs originally set up as works teams. 1899 Hoffenheim, who finished fourth in the 2016/17 Bundesliga table, are owned by German billionaire and founder of software giant SAP, Dietmar Hopp. Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, are owned by pharmaceutical company Bayer, and VfL Wolfsburg are run by automobile manufacturer Volkswagen.

Ahead of kick-off, SportsPro presents its definitive sponsorship guide for all of the Bundesliga teams in 2017/18.

FC Augsburg

  • Kit supplier: Nike
  • Main sponsor: WWK
  • Sleeve sponsor: N/A
  • Primary sponsors: Lechwerke AG, Grünbeck,Segmüller, Sortimo International, Stadtwerke Augsburg, Roma, VR-Bank Handels, Kuka, Lotto Bayern, Audi
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: Sortimo, VR-Bank, Müller, Dehner

Hertha BSC

Werder Bremen

Borussia Dortmund

Eintracht Frankfurt

SC Freiburg

Hamburger SV

  • Kit supplier: Adidas
  • Main sponsor: Emirates
  • Sleeve sponsor: Popp Feinkost
  • Primary sponsors: HEK, NDR2, Tipico, Audi, QSC, Koenig Pilsner
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: Wurst, Lieferando

Hannover 96

  • Kit supplier: Jako
  • Main sponsor: Heinz von Heiden
  • Sleeve sponsor: HDI
  • Primary sponsors: HDI, Volkswagen, NDR2, AOK, Continental, tipwin, Gilde
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: Heinz von Heiden, Lieferando

1899 Hoffenheim

  • Owner: Dietmar Hopp
  • Kit supplier: Lotto
  • Main sponsor: SAP
  • Sleeve sponsor: ProWin
  • Primary sponsors: Audi, Bitburger, Union Investment, AOK, Harder&Partner, Sparkasse-Heidelberg, Lidl, digibet
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: ProWin, Coca-Cola, Interwetten

1. FC Köln

  • Kit supplier: Erima
  • Main sponsor: REWE
  • Sleeve sponsor: DEVK
  • Primary sponsors: Rheinenergie, Rimowa, Gaffel, Ford, Deutsche Post, Betsafe, HDI Versicherungen
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: Deutsche Post, Eisenbach Safes, Aral

RB Leipzig

  • Owner: Red Bull
  • Kit supplier: Nike
  • Main sponsor: Red Bull
  • Sleeve sponsor: CG Immobilien
  • Primary sponsors: Hanwha Q Cells, Volkswagen, Tipico, Porsche, Rauch, Ur-Krostitzer, Mediamarkt
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: Hanwha Q Cells, CG Immobilien, Invia

Bayer Leverkusen

  • Owner: Bayer Pharmaceuticals
  • Kit supplier: Jako
  • Main sponsor: Barmenia Versicherungen
  • Sleeve sponsor: Westminster Group
  • Primary sponsors: Pronova BKK, tipwin, Bitburger,, Avea, Coca-Cola, Ditcon, Hellweg,, Niedax Group, Maurice Lacroix
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: Lieferando, Barmenia, Westminster Group

Mainz 05

Borussia Mönchengladbach

  • Kit supplier: Kappa
  • Main sponsor: Postbank
  • Sleeve sponsor: H-Hotels
  • Primary sponsors: Santander, Böklunder, Bitburger, Mybet
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17: H-Hotels, Mybet, Puma (kit supply deal which activates at close of 2017/18)

Bayern Munich

Schalke 04

  • Kit supplier: Adidas
  • Main sponsor: Gazprom
  • Sleeve sponsor: All You Need Fresh
  • Primary sponsors: Bet-at-home, Böklunder, Coca-Cola, R + V Versicherung, Hisense, Tillman's, Veltins
  • Deals signed since start of 2016/17:, AOK Nordwest, All You Need Fresh, Kumho, Umbro (kit supply deal which activates at close of 2017/18)

VfB Stuttgart

VfL Wolfsburg