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Bundesliga Competes with European Rivals in Financial Stakes

Its teams may be struggling to make an impression on the European soccer scene but at home, the Bundesliga is going from strength to strength in terms of financial power.

VfB Stuttgart fans celebrate their team's Bundesliga win last season

The 2006/2007 season was a record breaker for Bundesliga crowds and profit

Helped by the attendance of 16.3 million fans over the course of the 2006/200/ season, the top two German leagues produced a record combined turnover for the financial year of some 1.72 billion euros ($2.65 billion).

The 36 teams of Germany's top two divisions, boosted by revenue from the sixth successive season of increased crowd figures, also managed to reduce their liabilities by more than 10 percent from 662.5 to under 600 million euros.

All 18 Bundesliga clubs recorded profits after tax as did 12 second division clubs, according to figures released by the German Soccer League (DFL) on Thursday.

Christian Seifert, DFL business manager

Seifert was full of praise for the Bundesliga's performance

The DFL also announced that German clubs benefited from a combined extra income of around 50 million euros from the 2006 World Cup in Germany but stressed that overall strength in the top two divisions was decisive in the record numbers.

The DFL praised the economic direction that German clubs were taking.

"It was an exceptional year. As a market and as organization, we are in better shape than ever before," DFL business manager Christian Seifert told reporters. "Our place among Europe's top leagues is secure for the midterm."

Debt-ridden Euro rivals hold advantage on the field

One problem faced by the league, according to the DFL, was a competitive disadvantage on the field. Many rival European clubs, awash in debt, spent far more of their budget on players.

Alemannia Aachen fans in full voice

Huge crowds boosted profits for the top two leagues

The gap could best be highlighted by the number of German clubs left in the quarter-finals of the Champions League -- just one, Schalke 04 who face Barcelona in the next round -- compared to four from the English Premier League. Werder Bremen's exit from the UEFA Cup on Thursday night left just Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen to fly the flag in the last eight.

The DFL report also showed that nearly 35,000 people are now employed in professional soccer in Germany, 700 more than a year ago. It also showed that of the record 16.3 million spectators who attended games in the 2006/2007 season, the proportion of female fans increased from 21 to 23 percent.

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