With Germany’s Bundesliga firmly ensconced as the thinking football fan’s league of choice, more and more UK-based supporters are choosing to spend weekends playing away from home. We investigate the new trend in sporting travel and offer a few pointers to make the most of a German sojourn.
The cost of Premier League football in England is exorbitant to point of being prohibitive for many fans.
Last year’s BBC Sport Price of Football study brought to light some startling facts and figures about what we pay to sate our weekly fix.
Whilst the most least expensive match-day ticket at Arsenal comes in at an eye-watering £65, Bundesliga giants – Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke – all charge under £13 for their cheapest tickets.
Over the course of a whole season, the differences in price points become even more apparent/depressing. The cheapest adult season ticket at Arsenal for the forthcoming 2015/16 season is £1035 (look away now for the dearest, coming in at £2039 according to Sky Sports). To put this into context against the rest of Europe, in Italy £163 could secure you a season ticket at AC Milan. Over in Spain, arguably Europe’s best two clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid, offer equally attractive offers at £103.38 and £174.65 for their cheapest season tickets respectively.
It is though the Bundesliga that is currently proving the biggest draw for English football fans exasperated by the corporate culture, not to mention prices, which now dictates how supporters are forced to consume football in the UK.
Whereas many Premier League attendees oft complain about over fastidious policing and stewarding at matches, the Bundesliga is an altogether more relaxed affair. Drinking on the terraces (yes, terraces still remain in many German grounds!) is almost actively encouraged as supporters are largely left to their own devices. It’s worth noting that clashes between rival supporters in Germany is rare, so don’t be alarmed if at 11am you are confronted by great throngs of replica-shirt clad fans joining your train armed with enough ale to keep a city Bierkeller in stock for a month.
With UK flights to several German cities no dearer than a cross-country train ticket in England, is it any wonder there is an ever-increasing tourism trade that centres on a weekend away with football as its focal point?
Specialist sites such as Football Break make arranging a weekend’s itinerary as easy as the click of a mouse. An ability to customize your trip online adds a layer of flexibility that is often absent from package deals. That said, there’s a premium to pay for taking out the hassle of having to book flights/accommodation/tickets yourself.
The Bundesliga Lounge provides an excellent guide to buying tickets for German top-flight games, without having to go through an agency. The key piece of advice, which applies to all travel, is that to plan ahead garners the best results. To ensure you get to see the game(s) you want, a bit of homework is needed as clubs release tickets in blocks. Miss a block and a group of matches will pass you by.
Those that have a passing interest in European football will be well aware that a Borussia Dortmund home game at Signal Iduna Park is a truly unique experience. The hardest ticket in town to secure is usually Bayern Munich, whose dominance in German football (which doesn’t look like ending anytime soon going off this season’s Bundesliga Betting odds) manifests itself in having the greatest number of supporters.
If you’ve any members of the travelling party whom the idea of spending precious time at a game is a real turn off, perhaps a Hertha Berlin match is the best bet. The capital club may not be one of the Bundesliga’s glamour clubs but they play at the Olympiastadion, the stadia in which Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics. For anyone with an interest in Germany’s past, to visit the scene of such an iconic event can be a poignant experience.