GGFN Advent Calendar | Day 18 – The Bundesliga’s Format

Welcome back to the Get German Football News advent calendar. As the countdown to Christmas continues, so does our festive fun on day eighteen, as we look into the positives of the Bundesliga’s 18-team league format.

During the inaugural Bundesliga season in 1963/64, the league consisted of 16 teams made up of the previous Oberliga competitions. The Oberliga West and South provided five sides, the Oberliga North supplied three sides, and the Oberliga Southwest offered two further sides to the new Bundesliga format.

As well as this, Hertha Berlin came in from the Oberliga Berlin to create the new league, but within two seasons, the Capital Club were found guilty of illegal financial behaviour. Therefore, rather than relegating Schalke and Karlsruher, Hertha’s league license was revoked, and the two sides who would have been relegated were given their Bundesliga status back.

However, alongside this, the two sides who won promotion that season, Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach, were granted promotion, while Tasmania Berlin replaced Hertha to ensure a club from the capital competed in the country’s top flight. Ever since then, the Bundesliga has consisted of 18 sides, other than in 1991/92, when the East German teams joined the West to create a 20-team top flight, where four sides were eventually relegated.

Nevertheless, while the Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A boast 20 teams in their respective top flights, having two fewer teams can be a blessing. There are fewer games during the season, which means that the Bundesliga can adhere to the winter break, while fewer domestic games offer the sides in Europe a better chance of competing.

While there are undoubtedly some negatives with the 18-team league format, the Bundesliga proves why it is beneficial. The future may see a change, but the fans will not lie down without a fight.

GGFN | Will Shopland

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