Season Report Women’s Bundesliga: Expenditures are growing faster than income

Status: 06.02.2023 3:09 p.m

The effort in the women’s Bundesliga has risen to a new record. On average, each club spent almost three million euros, but not even half of the budget was covered.

The sums that are turned over in the women’s Bundesliga are still extremely modest compared to men’s football. Nevertheless, the trend is clear: budgets and salaries are increasing rapidly, as the season report presented by the German Football Association (DFB) on Monday (February 6th, 2023) shows.

“In terms of visibility, reach and income, our league was able to grow again – as in the previous season,” says Vice President Sabine Mammitzsch, who is responsible for women’s football. But the truth is that the cost side is rising even faster.

The average loss is almost 1.5 million euros

The almost three million euros in total expenditure per club means an increase of more than 50 percent compared to the 2017/2018 season. One thing is clear: Only licensed clubs that divert increasing amounts of money from men’s games for women can afford this. One reason why pure women’s football clubs like Turbine Potsdam, currently bottom of the table, are now having such a hard time. Against this background, things are likely to become increasingly difficult for a training club like SGS Essen.

With RB Leipzig as the leader of the 2nd women’s Bundesliga, the next big brand is pushing up – and can easily afford the subsidy business. A women’s Bundesliga club now makes an average loss of almost 1.5 million euros, with the four clubs with a clear prioritization of the women’s area (Potsdam, Essen, SC Sand, Carl-Zeiss Jena) only losing an average of 151,000 euros.

The DFB therefore expressly states that the league “in no economically threatening situation” located, because: “The negative result of the season rather reflects the ever-increasing, sustainable commitment of licensed clubs to women’s football. They are willing to make investments, but they also see valuable consideration in terms of branding and image enhancement.”

Salaries are the biggest driver

The biggest driver of costs are salaries, which have risen to an average of 1.64 million euros. The personnel expenses alone are not covered by the total income. Expenditure here has risen by 55 percent in the last five years. Professionalization has its price, “Nevertheless, there are some big differences between the individual clubs”according to the association.

Income and expenditure of the women’s Bundesliga
Season 2019/2020Season 2020/2021Season 2021/2022

Income 1.21 million euros

Income 1.32 million euros

Income 1.42 million euros

Expenditure 2.14 million euros

Expenditure 2.47 million euros

Expenditure 2.94 million euros

There are clubs that continue to only pay three-digit expense allowances, while the top clubs such as VfL Wolfsburg and FC Bayern can offer the top players five-digit monthly fees. Otherwise, some of the EM heroines would probably no longer play in Germany. Tobias Trittel, sports coordinator for women’s football at VfL Wolfsburg and designated chairman of the women’s Bundesliga committee, judged at the presentation of the season report that “A lot has been moved in the right direction, but there are still many tasks ahead of us”.

The women’s Bundesliga generated revenue of around 17 million euros in 2021/2022. 40 percent more than in the previous season, but the income from advertising (678,000 euros on average), media exploitation (244,000) or viewer income (76,000) can still be increased. The average attendance last season was only around 800 fans per game.

The number of fans has more than tripled in the current season

Only the European Championships in England brought a (significant) improvement for the current season. Clubs and associations played a few clever one-twos with highlight games, but the popularity has also increased significantly across the board: 183,477 visitors on the first ten match days (3058 on average) are the absolute best.

For comparison: In the previous record season 2013/2014 there were a total of 173,438 fans after 22 rounds (1314 on average). If the popularity continues in the second half of the season, then the EM hype has actually had an effect on the Bundesliga. “What happened in England after the European Championship gained enormous momentum, especially in the league.”, says Doris Fitschen, overall coordinator for women in football. The former national player and manager never tires of calling for greater visibility for higher marketing revenues.

A total of 77 hours of TV reporting

The league was reported on television for around 77 hours. Because ARD and ZDF significantly increased their reporting, the cumulative reach rose to 211 million on free TV, an increase of 83 percent. The most-watched program was the ARD live broadcast of the game between FC Bayern and TSG Hoffenheim with 1.52 million viewers.

ARD and ZDF are “the central drivers of the overall reach with a percentage of 66 percent”, it says in the DFB report. And further: “The programs Sportschau live and Sportschau achieved the most advertising media contacts.” With the new TV contract from the 2023/2024 season, the next level of television marketing is to be ignited. The league will then generate income of 5.1 million euros for the twelve clubs per season. The game days will be broken up for the various providers from Friday to Monday. Ten games are broadcast live on ARD and ZDF.

Still a big gap to England

The gap to the one filled with international top stars Women’s Super League (WSL) in England is also involved “a landmark degree” (DFB Managing Director Holger Blask) only partially closed. For the English league, TV revenues are estimated at around ten million pounds (equivalent to 11.4 million euros). “The English are still a bit ahead, but we’re right behind now”says Blask, knowing full well that there is still considerable potential for growth in the German market.

The prerequisite is that all major club brands invest in professional women’s football and that the league is also expanded. However, the format with twelve clubs is fixed for the next four years. “An increase earlier than the 2027/2028 season is not realistic”, said the head of the game, Manauel Hartmann. According to a DFB study, the commercial value could increase significantly over the next ten years: According to this, in 2031/32 there would at best be a league with 16 licensed clubs, playing in front of an average of 7500 spectators and generating 130 million euros in one season. But there is still a long way to go until then.