1. We’re in the money
Already in a financial league of their own in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich are expecting to be showered with even more loot when Champions League prize money reforms come into play in 2018-19.
As a result of the pot being shared out more on the basis of a club’s track record in Europe than on the value of its domestic TV market, Bayern will be one of the main beneficiaries, potentially raking in, according to chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, something in the region of 110 million euros per season, a whopping 70 per cent increase in continental competition income.
For those of a non-elitist persuasion, the new jackpot redistribution formula and the decision to give four guarenteed Champions League places to the top-four Euro leagues – La Liga, Premier League, Bundesliga and Serie A – smacks of an upmarket money grab.
However, Rummenigge, who as head of the European Club Association, played a key role in driving through the changes, insists they were absolutely necessary.
“There are plans for a Super League, in which the the top clubs would receive substantially more money, and where would we be if some were lured away?” asked the Bayern chief in an interview with Der Spiegel. “A sloppily structured Champions League would have exploded. These reforms protect the Champions League in its current form, keeping it under the roof of UEFA.”
According to Rummenigge, the new package also is designed as a defence mechanism against the financial might of English football: “Thanks to their TV revenues of 3.3 billion a season, they are crushing us all.”
Rummenigge believes Bayern now have a better chance of holding onto such star names as Robert Lewandowski, who has been stalling on contract extension talks.
2. If it’s broke, let’s fix it.
At a time when Bayern reign supreme in Deutschland – winning the last four Bundesliga titles and hot favourites to clinch a fifth in 2016-17 – it’s hardly startling that some in the German game are thinking about ways to make the championship less predictable.
Among the ‘revolutionaries’ is former Leverkusen CEO and League president, Wolfgang Holzhäuser and for him the answer is simple – introduce end-of-term play-offs.
In Holzhäuser’s brave new world, the top-four at the end of the regular season would then proceed to a knock-out format featuring semis and grand final.
“Play-offs are more relevant than ever,” declared Holzhäuser in Kicker magazine. “In the long-term, it’s not good for the competition to have one dominant team. The Bundesliga’s commercial partners are not unmoved when the champion is known by late October”.
The reaction of Dortmund coach, Thomas Tuchel to the suggestion? “Why not. ”
3. Bremen fire Skripnik
Unsurprisingly, Bremen’s 4-1 hammering at Gladbach on Saturday, proved the end of the road for vanquished coach, Viktor Skripnik, paying with his job for a good 12 months of dire results: an almost-fatal dice with relegation last term, German Cup elimination at the hands of third tier, Lotte, in August and a terrible start to the new campaign (three defeats out of three and an horrific 2:12 goal-difference).
Bremen general manager, Frank Baumann and his board did all they could to circle the wagons, to stand by their man. Yet in the end, had to admit that continuity only has merit when there’s a hint of a better tomorrow.
“The story of the last few weeks is clear; we haven’t seen any improvement,” explained Baumann.
While the search goes on a for a Weserstadion firefigher, club Under 23 coach, Alexander Nouri, will step in as caretaker. Among those linked to the vacancy are ex-Schalke boss, Andre Breitenreiter, former Hoffenheim boss, Markus Gisdol and USA assistant, Andy Herzog, once a hugely popular playmaker for the northerners
4. Rodriguez’s moment of madness
Mainz midfielder, Jose Rodriguez, looks set for a long spell in the doghouse after seriously injuring Augsburg’s Dominik Kohr with a brutal studs-up tackle on Sunday.
With his side 3-1 up and only seconds remaining, the Spaniard had absolutely no need to go in hard and high on his opponent. But followed through all the same, leaving the German Under 21 star with a gaping wound on his shin and most of the other players in a state of shock.
Rodriguez, who was rightly sent-off, is sure to have the disciplinary book thrown at him. The German league’s rule-enforcers are not ones to sugar-coat punishment and Mainz have promised to sanction him too.
“I’d like to offer my deepest, most sincere apology to Kohr andFC Augsburg,” declared Mainz coach, Martin Schmidt. “This is not Mainz.”
Much to Kohr’s relief, his leg was not broken, though he will require an operation to repair damaged tendons and muscles.
5. Dortmund eye Dendoncker
The only Belgium-based player in Roberto Martinez’s ‘Diables Rouges’ squad, young Anderlecht defensive midfielder or centre-back, Leander Dendoncker is thought to be on the verge of a mid-season switch to Dortmund.
Scouts from the Ruhr giants were spotted a recent Anderlecht-Qabala Europa League tie and the 21-year-old has admitted that, for the sake of his career, he will have to move at some point to a major European league.
In excellent form for Anderlecht this season, Dendoncker certainly fits the Dortmund bill: talented, youthful and with both feet firmly on the ground.