Monday, September 10, 2012

Bundesliga : An Overview



The Fußball-Bundesliga (commonly the Bundesliga, German pronunciation: Federal League) is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of the German football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. It is contested by 18 teams and operates on a system of promotion and relegation with the 2. Bundesliga. Seasons run from August to May. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during weekday evenings.
A total of 51 clubs have competed in the Bundesliga since its founding. FC Bayern Munich has won the Bundesliga the most, winning the title 21 times. However, the Bundesliga has seen other champions with Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV, Werder Bremen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart most prominent among them. The Bundesliga is one of the top national leagues, currently ranked 3rd in Europe according to UEFA's league coefficient ranking, based on recent European performances. The Bundesliga is the number one football league in terms of average attendance; out of all sports, its average of 45,134 fans per game during the 2011–12 season was only beaten by the NFL.
Unlike other countries, in Germany a unified national football league structure was quite late in developing. The Bundesliga was not formed until 1963 and the structure and organisation of the nation's football leagues have undergone frequent changes right up to the present day. The league was originally founded by the German Football Association, but is now operated by the Deutsche Fußball Liga.


Overview


Borussia Dortmund against rivals Schalke, known as the Revierderby, in 2009
The Bundesliga is composed of two divisions: the 1. Bundesliga (although it is rarely referred to with the First prefix), and, below that, the 2. Bundesliga (Second Bundesliga), which has been the second tier of German football since 1974. The Bundesligen (plural) are professional leagues. Since 2008, the 3. Liga (3rd League) in Germany is also a professional league, but may not be called Bundesliga because the league is run by the German Football Association (DFB) and not, as are the two Bundesligen, by the German Football League (Deutsche Fußball-Liga or DFL).
Below the level of the 3rd league, leagues are generally often subdivided on a regional basis. For example, the Regionalligen are currently made up of Nord (North), Süd (South) and West divisions, and the Oberligen (upper leagues) are composed of nine divisions representing federal states or large urban and geographical areas. The levels below the Oberligen differ between the local areas. The league structure has changed frequently and typically reflects the degree of participation in the sport in various parts of the country. In the early 1990s, changes were driven by the reunification of Germany and the subsequent integration of the national leagues of East and West Germany.
Every team in the two Bundesligen must have a licence to play in the league, or else they are relegated into the regional leagues. To obtain a licence, teams must be financially healthy and meet certain standards of conduct as organisations.
As in other national leagues, there are significant benefits to being in the top division:
  • A greater share of television broadcast licence revenues goes to 1. Bundesliga sides.
  • 1. Bundesliga teams draw significantly greater levels of fan support. Average attendance in the first league is 42,673 per game — more than twice the average of the 2. Bundesliga.
  • Greater exposure through television and higher attendance levels helps 1. Bundesliga teams attract the most lucrative sponsorships.
  • 1. Bundesliga teams develop substantial financial muscle through the combination of television and gate revenues, sponsorships and marketing of their team brands. This allows them to attract and retain skilled players from domestic and international sources and to construct first-class stadium facilities.
The 1. Bundesliga is financially strong, and the 2. Bundesliga has begun to evolve in a similar direction, becoming more stable organisationally and financially, and reflecting an increasingly higher standard of professional play.
Internationally, the most well-known German clubs include Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen and VfB Stuttgart. Hamburger SV is the only team to have played continuously in the Bundesliga since its foundation.
In the 2008–09 season, the Bundesliga reinstated an earlier German system of promotion and relegation:
  • The bottom two finishers in the Bundesliga are automatically relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, with the top two finishers in the 2. Bundesliga taking their place.
  • The third-from-bottom club in the Bundesliga will play a two-legged match with the third-place team from the 2. Bundesliga, with the winner taking up the final place in the following season's Bundesliga.
For several years, a different system had been used in which the bottom three finishers of the Bundesliga had been automatically relegated, to be replaced by the top three finishers in the 2. Bundesliga. (Before 1974–75 it was only four clubs that changed places instead of six).


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The season starts in early August and lasts until late May, with a winter break of six weeks (mid-December through to the end of January). In recent years, games have been played on Saturdays (five games beginning at 3:30 pm and one game beginning at 6:30 pm) and Sundays (one game beginning at 3:00 pm and one game at 5:00 pm). A new television deal in 2006 reintroduced a Friday game (beginning at 8:30 pm).

History

Origins

Prior to the formation of the Bundesliga, German football was played at an amateur level in a large number of sub-regional leagues until, in 1949, part-time (semi-) professionalism was introduced and only five regional Oberligen (Premier Leagues) remained. Regional champions and runners-up played a series of playoff matches for the right to compete in a final game for the national championship. On 28 January 1900, a national association, the Deutscher Fußball Bund (DFB) had been founded in Leipzig with 86 member clubs. The first recognised national championship team was VfB Leipzig, who beat DFC Prague 7–2 in a game played at Altona on 31 May 1903.
Through the 1950s, there were continued calls for the formation of a central professional league, especially as professional leagues in other countries began to draw Germany's best players away from the semi-professional domestic leagues. At the international level the German game began to falter as German teams often fared poorly against professional teams from other countries. A key supporter of the central league concept was national team head coach Sepp Herberger who said, “If we want to remain competitive internationally, we have to raise our expectations at the national level.”
Meanwhile, in East Germany, a separate league was established with the formation of the DS-Oberliga (Deutscher Sportausschuss Oberliga) in 1950. The league was renamed the Football Oberliga DFV in 1958 and was generally referred to simply as the DDR-Liga or DDR-Oberliga. The league fielded 14 teams with two relegation spots.

Establishment

The defeat of the national team by Yugoslavia (0–1) in a 1962 World Cup quarter-final game in Chile was one impetus (of many) to the formation of a national league. Under new DFB president Hermann Gösmann (elected that very day) the Bundesliga was created in Dortmund on 28 July 1962 to begin play starting with the 1963–64 season.
At the time, there were five Oberligen (Premier Leagues) in place representing West Germany's North, South, West, Southwest, and Berlin. East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain, maintained its separate league structure. 46 clubs applied for admission to the new league. 16 teams were selected based on their success on the field, economic criteria and representation of the various Oberligen.
•From Oberliga Nord: Eintracht Braunschweig, Werder Bremen, Hamburger SV
•From Oberliga West: Borussia Dortmund, 1. FC Köln, Meidericher SV (now MSV Duisburg), Preußen Münster, Schalke 04
•From Oberliga Südwest: 1. FC Kaiserslautern, 1. FC Saarbrücken
•From Oberliga Süd: Eintracht Frankfurt, Karlsruher SC, 1. FC Nuremberg, TSV 1860 München, VfB Stuttgart
•From Oberliga Berlin: Hertha BSC
bundesliga logos

The first Bundesliga games were played on 24 August 1963. Early favorite 1. FC Köln was the first Bundesliga champion (with 45:19 points) over second place clubs Meidericher SV and Eintracht Frankfurt (both 39:25).

Structure and competition

The German football champion is decided strictly by play in the Bundesliga. Each club plays every other club once at home and once away. Originally, a victory was worth two points, with one point for a draw and none for a loss. Since the 1995–96 season, a victory has been worth three points, with no change in the value of a draw or loss. The club with the most points at the end of the season becomes German champions. Currently, the top three clubs in the table qualify automatically for the group phase of the UEFA Champions League, while the fourth-place team enters the Champions League at the third qualifying round (see overview). The two teams at the bottom of the table are relegated into the 2nd Bundesliga, while the top two teams in the 2nd Bundesliga are promoted. The 16th-placed team (third-last), and the third-placed team in the 2nd Bundesliga play a two-leg play-off match. The winner of this match plays the next season in the Bundesliga, and the loser in the 2nd Bundesliga.
If teams are level on points, tie-breakers are applied in the following order:
  1. Goal difference for the entire season
  2. Total goals scored for the entire season
  3. Head-to-head results (total points)
  4. Head-to-head goals scored
  5. Head-to-head away goals scored
  6. Total away goals scored for the entire season
If two clubs are still tied after all of these tie-breakers have been applied, a single match is held at a neutral site to determine the placement. However, this has never been necessary in the history of the Bundesliga.
In terms of team selection, matchday squads must have no more than five non-EU representatives. Seven substitutes are permitted to be selected, from which three can be used in the duration of the game.

Changes in league structure

  • Number of teams:
    • 1963–64 to 1964–65: 16
    • 1965–66 to 1990–91: 18
    • 1991–92: 20, while East and West German leagues were being combined after German reunification
    • Since 1992–93: 18
  • Number of teams relegated (automatic relegation except as noted):
    • 1963–64 to 1973–74: 2
    • 1974–75 to 1980–81: 3
    • 1981–82 to 1990–91: 2 automatic plus the 16th-place team in the First Bundesliga played a two-leg relegation match against the third-place team of the Second Bundesliga for the final spot in the First Bundesliga
    • 1991–92: 4
    • 1992–93 to 2007–08: 3
    • Since 2008–09: 2 automatic plus the 16th-place team in the First Bundesliga playing a two-leg relegation match against the third-place team of the Second Bundesliga for the final spot in the First Bundesliga

European qualification (as of 2011–12)

  • 1st, 2nd place and 3rd place: Group phase of UEFA Champions League
  • 4th place: Play-off round of Champions League for non-champions. Winners at this stage enter the group phase; losers enter the group phase of UEFA Europa League.
  • DFB-Pokal (German Cup) winner: Qualifies for group phase of UEFA Europa League regardless of league position.
    • If the Cup winner qualifies for the Champions League, the cup winner's place in the Europa League goes to the defeated cup finalist if it is not already qualified for European competition, although the defeated cup finalist will enter the competition a stage earlier than if it had won the Cup. This rule was retained from the Europa League's predecessor, the UEFA Cup.
      • The team that benefits from this rule does not necessarily have to be a Bundesliga member. For example, although 2nd Bundesliga sides Alemannia Aachen lost to Werder Bremen in the 2004 DFB-Pokal Final, Alemannia secured an entry in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, because Werder qualified for the Champions League as First Bundesliga champions.
      • Also, if both cup finalists qualify for the Champions League, the Europa League berth reserved for the DFB-Pokal winners is transferred to the highest finisher below the Champions League qualification places, with the two teams immediately below assuming the regular Europa League spots. This most recently happened in 2012, when the 2012 DFB-Pokal Final pitted champions Borussia Dortmund against second-placed Bayern Munich. As a result, seventh-placed Hannover 96, which would otherwise not have qualified for a European competition, received a berth in the 2012–13 UEFA Europa League.
  • 5th place: Play-off round of Europa League
  • 6th place: Third qualifying round of Europa League
  • An additional place in the Europa League may also be granted via the UEFA Fair Play mechanism. This rule was maintained from the UEFA Cup. The last Bundesliga team to gain entry to the UEFA Cup via the fair play rule was Mainz 05 in 2005–06.
The number of German clubs which may participate in UEFA competitions is determined by UEFA coefficients, which take into account the results of a particular nation's clubs in UEFA competitions over the preceding five years.

History of European qualification

  • European Cup/Champions League:

    • Up to and including 1996–97: German champion only.
    • 1997–99: Top two teams; champions automatically into group phase, runners-up entered the qualifying round.
    • 1999–2008: Top two teams automatically into first group phase (only one group phase starting in 2003–04). Depending on the DFB's UEFA coefficients standing, either one or two other clubs (most recently one) entered at the third qualifying round; winners at this level entered the group phase.
    • 2008–2011: Top two teams automatically into group phase. Third placed team had to play in the play-off round for the right to play in the group stage.

  • UEFA Cup/Europa League:

    • From 1971–72 to 1998–99, UEFA member nations could send between one and four teams to the UEFA Cup. Germany was always entitled to send at least three teams to the competition and often as many as four. From 1978–79, the number of participants was determined by the DFB's UEFA coefficent standing, prior to this the method for deciding the number of participants is unknown. The best performing teams in the league other than the champion would qualify, although if one of these teams was also winner of the DFB-Pokal then they would enter the Cup Winners' Cup instead and their UEFA Cup place would be taken by the next highest-placed team in the league (5th or 6th place). Briefly in the mid-1970s the DFB decided to allocate the last UEFA Cup place to the DFB-Pokal runner-up instead of a third or fourth team qualified by performance in the league, meaning that at this point the DFB-Pokal qualified two teams for European competition (winners for the Cup Winners' Cup, runners-up for the UEFA Cup). This policy was unique amongst UEFA member associations and was dropped after only a few seasons. Starting with the 1999–2000 season and the abolition of the Cup Winners' Cup (which was then folded into the UEFA Cup), the DFB-Pokal winner now automatically qualified for the UEFA Cup alongside, depending on the DFB's UEFA coefficients standing, between one and three extra participants (if the DFB-Pokal winner also qualified for the Champions League, they were replaced by the DFB-Pokal runner-up; if they were also qualified for the Champions League, the UEFA Cup place went to the next best placed team in the league not otherwise qualified for European competition). Since 1999, the DFB has always been entitled to enter a minimum of three clubs in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, and at times as many as four (the maximum for any European federation). Teams that entered via UEFA's Fair Play mechanism, or those that entered through the now-defunct Intertoto Cup, did not count against the national quota. From 2006 through the final Intertoto Cup in 2008, only one First Bundesliga side was eligible to enter the Intertoto Cup and possibly earn a UEFA Cup berth. For the 2005–06 season, the DFB earned an extra UEFA Cup place via the Fair Play draw; this place went to Mainz 05 as the highest-ranked club in the Fair Play table of the First Bundesliga not already qualified for Europe.

  • Cup Winners' Cup (abolished after 1999):

    • The winner of the DFB-Pokal entered the Cup Winners' Cup, unless that team was also league champion and therefore competing in the European Cup/Champions League, in which case their place in the Cup Winners' Cup was taken by the DFB-Pokal runner-up. Today, the DFB-Pokal winner (if not otherwise qualified for the Champions League) enters the UEFA Europa League.

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