The soccer club Bayern Munich is introducing new accessories this autumn. For the first time in Germany, fans will be able to save with their favorite team and fill their wallets with Bayern Munich credit cards.
He doesn't leave home without it.
Top level sports teams like Manchester United, the L.A. Lakers or the New York Yankees have been in the business for years, but some things take longer to come to Germany. Now though, soccer champions Bayern Munich have finally joined the bandwagon. Starting in the fall, fans will be able to supplement their collections of T-shirts, caps and pillowcases bearing the club's name with Bayern Munich credit cards and savings accounts.
Bayern Munich will be working together with the Munich-based Hypo-Vereinsbank (HVB) to convince fans to entrust the business partners with their finances. And their loyalty will be rewarded -- if their favorite soccer team manages to win the German championships or the Champions League.
Bayern Munich has teamed up with the world's biggest independent credit card provider, MBNA. The U.S. firm has already supplied all the teams in the National Football League (NFL), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MBA) with credit cards, as well as the PGA golf championship and leading motor sports events.
Man U mortgage
The idea is old hat for Manchester United. The world's most popular soccer team is offering fans an extra 1 percent interest on savings balances since the club qualified for the next season of the Champions League. Man U mortgage holders get free subscriptions to Manchester United TV and the club gets 1 percent of the value of all savings and mortgages taken out in its name. Last year it earned more than €1 million from savings accounts and mortgages alone.
The first airplane named after a soccer team.
"Bayern Munich is, like Manchester United, a very strong brand, from which Hypo-Vereinsbank will profit, according to Andreas Pläsier from Berenberg Bank in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
HVB head Dieter Rampl is already convinced. "FC Bayern is an ideal partner for us," he stressed. The prospect of around 10 million Bayern Munich supporters becoming prospective HVB clients is a persuasive argument.
And a deal with a soccer club worth millions of euros can translate into lucrative business in other ways too. In the case of Bayern Munich, HVB is also the team's new house bank.
"A potential initial public offering or corporate actions on the part of FC Bayern are naturally interesting for HVB," Paul Sibianu, an analyst at WGZ-Bank said.
But Sibianu is doubtful that German fans will clamor for the new accessories. "I view the German soccer clubs possible financial transactions rather skeptically," he said. "When it comes to financial issues, the German mentality is much more conservative than in the USA or Great Britain."
And many more banks may not bite either. At least to start with, the soccer teams are more likely to reap benefits than the financial institutes, Sibianu said. And not many German clubs can rely on a large enough pool of supporters to make it worthwhile.
"Bayern is interesting for the banks because the club doesn't only have supporters in Munich, but throughout Germany and internationally," Pläsier from Berenberg Bank explained. "A club like Bayer Leverkusen would have a much more difficult time in comparison."