The Premier League and Bundesliga are two of the most popular and competitive leagues in world soccer; they are watched worldwide by fans who expect to see some of the greatest players in the world competing for the top honors.
Today we’re going to compare the two leagues, not for an overall winner or loser, but seeing what the differences are between these two great leagues.
Are the rules different for the respective top divisions in England and Germany? With historic teams playing in both countries, both leagues have huge followings and rich histories, so let’s delve in to see how they compare.
How Many Teams Compete?
- Premier League: 20 Teams
- Bundesliga: 18 Teams
The first comparison to look at is how many teams compete in each league; more teams competing might not necessarily mean a better league. The quality of the competition and the league’s stability add value for the fans.
The Premier League, formed in 1992, has 20 teams competing for the title every season, with each team playing twice, once at home and once away. Each team plays 38 games over a season, which can be tough on teams with smaller squads as the rigors of a long season plays out.
The Bundesliga, founded in 1963, is Germany’s premier soccer league and has undergone several fundamental changes to its format since 1963. Changes ranging from the number of teams participating to the number of teams being relegated and promoted each season have evolved over the decades.
In its current format, the Bundesliga has 18 teams competing for the league each season, and the relegation and promotion rules have remained the same since the 2009 Bundesliga season.
Promotions & Relegations
The teams fighting bravely at the bottom of the Premier League have 38 games to try and accrue enough points to avoid relegation.
The bottom three teams after 38 games are relegated from the Premier League down to the Championship. Not only does this mean the teams don’t get to play in the top division of English soccer, but the financial ramifications are enormous.
For promotions to the Premier League, the top two teams in the Championship are automatically promoted. At the same time, a knockout competition decides the third team to be promoted between the teams finishing between third and sixth place. The four teams are paired up and play each other twice, with the winner going to the playoff finals at Wembley Stadium.
The playoff final has been called the most valuable single game in soccer; the team that wins the final is also promoted to the Premier League, with the financial benefits that are worth an estimated £100 million to the team that wins.
The format for relegation and promotions in the Bundesliga differs slightly from the Premier League; the bottom two teams are relegated to Bundesliga 2. But the third from the bottom team goes into a playoff with the team that finishes third in the Bundesliga 2. The relegation/promotion playoff winner plays in the Bundesliga the following season.
European Qualification Rules – Premier League
Every team in the Premier League and Bundesliga aims to finish as high up the league table as possible; the difference in prize money between a team finishing fifth, and a team finishing in the Champions League places, is huge.
In the Premier League, the top four teams at the end of the season are automatically placed into the Champions League group stages. For the fans, this is a massive boost to the clubs’ profile, and the additional revenue is enormous.
A team regularly playing Champions League soccer can buy better players, further widening the gap between the elite teams and the also-rans.
The teams finishing fifth and sixth in the Premier League are entered into the Europa League group stages; it’s not as financially rewarding or as prestigious, but it can bring solid revenue in, and the winner is automatically entered into the next season’s Champions League.
Lastly, the team finishing seventh in the Premier League is entered into the Europa Conference League, a relatively new European league that has yet to captivate fans; it is nevertheless an entry into European competition.
European Qualification – Bundesliga
The European qualification for Bundesliga teams is remarkably similar to the Premier League; the top four teams are automatically entered into the Champions League, while the team in fifth is automatically entered into the Europa League group stages. The team in sixth place finds itself in the Europa Conference League.
Due to German teams doing so well in Europe, the league has the luxury of four Champions League places despite there being only 18 teams in the league.
The better a nation does in European competition, the higher its coefficient, which, over time, results in more teams being entered into elite competitions.
Premier League Viewers vs. Bundesliga Viewers
Matchday attendances and TV viewers bring in incredible sums of money for the top teams in the Premier League and Bundesliga; the better a team does in the league, the more they are shown live on TV.
Let’s have a look at the figures to see if there’s a standout performer between the two leagues.
Premier League Figures
The Premier League has the second highest average attendances in European soccer, behind only the Bundesliga. With worldwide coverage, the league is one of the most viewed on the planet, but with an average Premier League ticket costing £125 (€147.29 or $146.79), it’s an expensive pastime.
Recent reports suggest that the Premier League has an annual viewing figure of 4.7 billion people per year, making it one of the most widely-viewed entertainment pastimes in the world.
An average Premier League game can have over 1.9 million viewers, a number that increases when the most major teams play each other.
The Bundesliga has the highest average match-day attendance in world soccer, and several factors combine to make German soccer a must-watch league.
Firstly, the stadiums are unusually large, there are many superb stadiums in use in the Bundesliga, and it’s rare to see a club with a small stadium.
Ticket prices are also superb; the Bundesliga averages at around €11.57 ($11.53 or £9.82) per game to watch from the stands, making it one of the most value-for-money leagues in the world.
Combine these two statistics with the fact that some of the best European teams ply their trade in the Bundesliga, and you’ve got an astonishingly well-run league.
An estimated 2 million people watch the Bundesliga on TV each week. However, the biggest teams in Germany, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund are often higher than those of the remaining teams.
Bayern may have over 1.17 million TV viewers compared to Bayer Leverkusen games, only pulling in 0.36 million viewers.
Who Makes The Most Money?
This is where the Premier League destroys all competition; the money generated through TV and prize money for the English top division is insane.
Each Premiership team receives an estimated £123 million per season from TV rights alone, compared to Bundesliga teams getting only £52 million.
The average attendance in the Bundesliga, around 42,673 per game, is higher than the Premier League, but tickets are almost ten times lower, making the Premier League the biggest winner (although the fans might consider themselves to be abused here)
From domestic and overseas prize money and TV rights, the Bundesliga generates around £3.98 billion domestically and over 850 million from overseas.
For the Premier League, these figures rise to £5.1 billion domestically and over 3 billion from overseas. Both are incredibly successful models and are the two most lucrative leagues in soccer.
You can see the average player salaries for both leagues here:
Despite the Premier League having a higher income and a larger worldwide audience, it’s a little harsh on the Bundesliga to relegate it to second place; the German top division hosts some of the most exciting games in European soccer, with some of the best players in the world turning out for huge teams.
The TV coverage of the Premier League is incredibly well-run, with 212 countries having access to the weekly games. This alone brings in incredible amounts of money and allows fans access to games that most leagues can only dream of. With increased revenue comes better players, and the neverending cycle of Premier League dominance continues.
The Bundesliga is a superb league to follow; any soccer fan who gets their teeth into some of the end-to-end games in the German leagues won’t be disappointed.
Another great feature of the German soccer format is that many of the clubs are owned by the fans themselves; you’ll rarely see a Bundesliga team that’s not well run and hard to sell to foreign investors, which many clubs, and fans, can only envy.