LONDON (Reuters) - Monday night football in Germany won’t continue beyond the current round of television rights which end in 2021 if fans continue to stay away from stadiums, Borussia Dortmund Chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said on Wednesday.
Attendance at Dortmund’s televised 1-1 draw against Augsburg on Monday was down more than 25,000 on the club’s Bundesliga average as supporters protested against what organisers have called an abandonment of Germany’s football culture.
Speaking at the London School of Economics German Symposium Watzke said the future of Monday games would depend on whether initial resistance from fans thaws and if it works commercially for clubs and TV firms that pay for broadcast rights.
“If 80 percent of the Germans reject that, and if we only get 54,000 instead of 81,000 coming to the stadium, then I am pretty sure that once the TV rights will be auctioned again in 2021, Monday just won’t happen anymore,” he said.
The protests were also a sign German football needed to be wary about over-commercialisation and making fans feel that they are being treated as customers of their favourite club rather than part of their fabric and identity, he added.
Watzke, who this month extended his contract at Dortmund to 2022, said the football landscape had been changed by the huge sums of money that has poured into the game as billionaires and, more recently Middle Eastern countries, had bought clubs.
He said that while it was accepted that clubs like Qatar-owned Paris St Germain were now paying enormous sums to buy star players from rival clubs, a ‘Super League’ where the “top, top” European clubs played each other still looked unlikely.
There were big questions about how teams would qualify for such a league and whether clubs in it would continue to play in their national leagues.
Fans also did not want to see games like those in early stages of the Champions League week-in week-out where big teams like Real Madrid thump smaller ones 8-0.
“Very likely in the south (of Europe), the big Spanish and big Italian teams, I see a very big desire to do something like that (a Super League). But in England I am not quite sure, and I don’t think that would go down well in Germany at all.”
Additional reporting by Karin Strohecker; editing by Ken Ferris