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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Boom time in the Bundesliga

By Margot Dunne

A crowd of 81,000 watched Werder Bremen beat Borussia Dortmund
A crowd of 81,000 watched Werder Bremen beat Borussia Dortmund
The German Bundesliga has recently announced record profits - partly due to the 2006 World Cup - but, as BBC World Service programme World Football has discovered, it may well be down to beer, sausages and standing up.

Often lacking the pace and energy of the Premiership, the big star names of La Liga or the glamour of Serie A, the Bundesliga nevertheless has the highest average attendances in Europe and the greatest goals-per-game ratio of any of the big four leagues.

Last weekend, a sell-out 81,000 crowd watched bottom-half club Borussia Dortmund lose 2-0 at home to title-chasers Werder Bremen.

It is worth asking then, what makes the fans turn out in such huge numbers here, while attendances in some other parts of Europe are falling?

Well, for one thing, German supporters are not exploited.

Ticket prices are low. At Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park, for just 9.50 you can join 27,000 fans on Europe's largest standing terrace.

Above all, there is a sense that the game here has not been hijacked - neither by big commercial interests nor by hooligans.

A season ticket costs around 102 for 17 games and there are cheap deals for families and generous reductions for students, pensioners and those doing national service.

That means enough money left over for the second key ingredient - beer!

It is perfectly normal during Bundesliga games to see fans carrying fistfuls of plastic beer mugs back onto the terraces.

Vast quantities of beer are consumed across the country every weekend, often to wash down that other German match-day staple, sausages, yet drunken misbehaviour or trouble inside the grounds is extremely rare.

The Signal Iduna Park home of the biggest terrace in Europe
Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park is home to the biggest terrace in Europe

In the wake of Hillsborough the German authorities considered following the English model of all-seater stadia but the objections of fans were listened to.

Instead, an agreement was reached whereby all Bundesliga clubs must guarantee that at least 10% of tickets are for standing areas.

The result is the continuation of a very traditional match-day atmosphere.

One Dortmund supporter told us that the standing terraces are "the soul of German football".

Above all, there is a sense that the game here has not been hijacked - neither by big commercial interests nor by hooligans.

It still belongs to the, ordinary, decent fans and perhaps that is the secret.

World Football presented by Alan Green is broadcast on BBC World Service at 0730 and 1030 BST



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SEE ALSO
Boom time in the Bundesliga
20 Apr 07 |  World Football
Terrace backers look to Germany
17 Mar 07 |  Football


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