Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The German Concept Which Means United May Struggle *; CHRIS WAUGH ON MAGPIES AND THE PHENOMENON OF DWARFICATION IN FOOTBALL

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The German Concept Which Means United May Struggle *; CHRIS WAUGH ON MAGPIES AND THE PHENOMENON OF DWARFICATION IN FOOTBALL

Article excerpt

'DWARFICATION' is not a term which you will often hear discussed in England but it is a concept which is gaining traction across the water in Germany.

However, following Newcastle United and Aston Villa's relegation to the Championship, it is a notion which could more appropriately be applied to the English football pyramid rather than that of their Continental cousins.

Rafa Benitez's decision to commit to the Magpies following relegation raised eyebrows - but perhaps when it is placed in a Europe-wide context it no longer appears (quite) as extraordinary.

So what is this so-called 'dwarfication' effect? Well, Stuttgart and Hannover 96 have fallen out of the Bundesliga this season while Eintracht Frankfurt only survived via victory in the relegation play-off.

Already former German giants 1860 Munich, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Nurnberg were languishing in Bundesliga 2 even before this raft of relegations.

Instead, controversial club Red Bull Leipzig have taken their place in the top flight of German football for the first time - just seven years after they bought SSV Markranstadt's league rights.

Such unfancied clubs such as Darmstadt 98, FC Ingolstadt and TSG Hoffenheim had already retained their places in the Bundesliga.

There is a fear in Germany the Bundesliga is losing its prestige and that the historically 'big' clubs - aside from the powerhouses such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund - are no longer maintaining their position in the domestic and international game.

In some ways, that can be seen as a positive.

New clubs are injecting a fresh energy into the top flight. This adds variety and colour and ensures a monopoly does not exist.

Yet, from a commercial point of view, there are concerns in Germany the Bundesliga will suffer.

Historically 'bigger' clubs by definition have a larger fanbase. The loss of that fanbase to the lower divisions means a depression in revenue.

Germans believe they are falling behind the Premier League, particularly given the English top flight's most-recent lucrative TV deal, and that 'dwarfication' will only widen that gap.

Yet, perversely, this term appears to more adequately describe the direction in which the English game is heading rather than the German one.

Not only will Newcastle and former European champions Villa drop into the Championship for 2016-17, already present in that division are two-time continent-conquerors Nottingham Forest.

In total, 11 of the 24 second-tier sides next season have lifted the title at some point in their history.

Such clubs as Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers have been stranded in the second tier for years already.

The Premier League, meanwhile, now has so-called 'smaller' clubs such as AFC Bournemouth - whose stadium capacity is just 11,464 - Watford and Burnley within their ranks. …

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