The Premier League is undoubtedly a special league given the standard of soccer and that everyone can beat anyone on their day. But when compared to football in other countries there are a few fatal flaws that for me at least completely change my view on the league.
Firstly a big problem is that English clubs are often owned by a very small collective of people, sometimes even one person or a family. This structure gives clubs a very business-like feel which it is to a certain extent but it’s the fact that this makes fans feel more like customers which are its downfall. Fans will have very little say in how the club is run meaning that an owner has the ability to completely transform a club whether for better or worse and there’s absolutely nothing the fans can do about it. In some cases, this can be very good given the money injections at Manchester City and Chelsea. But on the other hand, it feels like the owner of Hull City is trying to annihilate the club’s identity.
In Germany, no one person or small collective is allowed to have such control. Their 50+1 rule as it’s commonly known restricts investment so that a club and its fans still have control. All clubs have a situation where club members have a majority ownership of the club. These people aren’t necessarily big rich businessmen who want a soccer club as a hobby but rather lots of fans and everyday people who have bought a part of their club and want to have a say in how it’s running. For example, if you were to buy a certain number of shares in Borussia Dortmund you would then be invited along to their annual meeting, where you could vote on decisions that the club is going to make. The other 49% of ownership is from big businesses but thanks to the 50+1 rule its ultimately fans who have the biggest influence at the club. This interaction with fans is just one of the things that make German football special and it makes it feel a mile away from the rich and sometimes greedy owners of the Premier League.
Although it feels like every year it’s rumored to be making a return at some point the utilization of safe standing in German stadiums means that they almost always have a better atmosphere than in England. Standing on the Südtribune at the Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund being showered with beer as everyone jumps around with excitement after a goal is something that can’t even think of being matched in England.
Soccer in England just seems to be run in the most convenient ways where there’s one owner to make the decisions and when you’re in the stadium there are quite rigid rules to make sure that fans act the way the owners and the FA want them to. The sheer lack of flexibility completely reduces the overall fan experience. Fans of Premier League sides get very little say in their clubs and the match day experience simply doesn’t match up to other clubs abroad. If you went into an English ground with a beer in hand and chanted and jumped around as is normal in many countries, you’d probably be kicked out of the stadium of the club you love which to make it worse, you already have no say in. It’s just a shame more than anything than measures aren’t being taken to match the fan experience that foreign clubs offer.