Posted: 4/1/2011


          OLIVER BIERHOFF speaks a lot of sense and so does his German buddy Christian Seiffert. Oliver played for 8 clubs in 4 countries, but didn't do well until he left the Bundesliga for Austria Salzburg, then Italy. At Ascoli he became the Serie A top scorer with 27 goals in 1977-78. 433 matches and 188 goals for clubs and 88 caps and 44 goals for Germany.

         He is now the National Team Manager of Germany, co-ordinating all organizational, financial, media and matketing matters. However, he will be best remembered for the first ever GOLDEN GOAL, which he scored in 1996 at the EUROS in England:  "Football's Coming Home". It won the cup in the final at Wembley against Czech Republic, past goalie Petr Kouba.

         Yesterday, he and Seiffert  CEO of the Bundesliga since 2005, were speaking at the SOCCEREX EUROPEAN FORUM in Manchester. Both the National team and the Bundesliga, 1, 2 and 3 are success stories. In recent years I have been to many matches in all three divisions and tickets are cheap, there is great local identification, sponsorships and marketing is booming and there is local ownership.

        There is a 50 plus 1 rule, meaning that there is no foreign ownership domination. Also, the clubs spend a great deal on their nurseries, and over 50% of players are local products.  This has also helped the national team with the majority of players eligible for Germany at the youth and full national team level. For those of us lucky enough to enjoy FIFA World Cup 2006, not only in the stadiums, but in the fan parks, there has been a great pride in following the clubs and nation.

        In contrast, England has may sorry foreign owners, too many overseas players of dubious ability, very high ticket prices and fans who prefer their clubs to supporting The Three Lions, unlike in Germany. He branded the England team who were spanked by Germany in South Africa as 'The wurst England team of all time'.

       "After failure at EURO 2004 in Portugal we had to restore pride in the national jersey. Instead of leaving their kit all over the place after a match, they fold them and hand them over to the kit man, they have to sing before their first and 50th match, dress neatly, be on time for meals, and support each other."

        SOCCEREX is where sport and business get together. There are short, 2 day get togethers in Europe, Asia, Middle East, plus a big show late November. The next three will be in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, including 26-30 November 2011. The founder of the show is Duncan Revie, son of the legendary Leeds United manager, Don Revie.

       At the buffet lunch I chatted with a few members of The Bundesliga Team over a great feast:  Confit duck, watermelon, watercress, oriental dressing; Wild boar sausage, dijon mashed potatoes, redcurrent jus; Thai green curry and fragrant rice: Penne, porcini mushrooms and pancetta, truffle oil, parmesian; Roast topside of British beef, red onion; Succulent roast leg of pork, stuffing and apple sauce; Bread and butter pudding, creme caramel, chocolat bavarois.  ALL YUMMY!!  Lots of beers, red and white wines and juices.

       Lots more to talk about who else I bumped into at the show in my next blog.