'Bundesliga a special product'

The German Bundesliga does not need to compete with the EPL in the popularity stakes - it's special in its own way.

That's the view of Borussia Dortmund's executive director of sales and marketing, Carsten Cramer.

Speaking to The New Paper ahead of the team's Bundesliga match against Werder Bremen at a sold-out Signal Iduna Park yesterday, Cramer said his club and the league are not interested in competing against the EPL to be the No. 1 football league in the world.

"We don't always need a comparison with the Premier League," he said.

"We are convinced you won't find another place where you experience football in such an intense and emotional way."

What makes the Bundesliga so popular in recent years is the quality of its football and the organic way its fans support the teams, added Cramer.

For example, over 80,000 people packed the Signal Iduna Park yesterday.

"The football is the most important thing. This is the Bundesliga, this is a very special product and, in our minds, a very successful one, because it is based on the game," he said.

Indeed, the Bundesliga can be proud of many things. It has been the highest-scoring top-tier professional league in Europe over the past 25 seasons.

It boasts the highest average attendance (43,534) in Europe, higher than the Premier League (36,176) and almost twice that of the Italian Serie A (22,213).

The average age of players in the league has also been reduced from 27.1 in 2003 to 24.5 this season.

This rejuvenation of the league gives Benedikt Scholz, Dortmund's head of international relations and business development, reason to believe the league can grow in popularity in South-east Asia.

Pointing to the club's partnerships with Thai province Suphanburi and Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim last year, he said: "The guys who are between 40 and 60 years old are probably addicted to the Premier League because of the success in the past.

"But we now have a chance to reach out to young people and the partnerships with Suphanburi and Johor help us do that (in South-east Asia)."