Bundesliga looks to become the first sustainable league in the world – will Australia follow?

The German Football League (DFL), the body which governs the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, recently outlined their ambitions to become the world’s first carbon neutral domestic football leagues.

On August 19, the DFL announced that clubs would take a vote in December of this year on whether to include environmental sustainability as a part of its licensing requirements.

Environmental sustainability has been placed at the forefront of the DFL’s objectives over the past six months, through their Taskforce for the Future of Professional Football.

The taskforce, which is made up of 36 business, sport and political experts also looks to focus their energy on other topics such as financial stability, communication with fans and supporting the growth of the professional women’s game.

“This is only the first step of a marathon,” Christian Pfennig, member of the DFL management board, explained to Forbes.

“Our goal is to anchor sustainability oriented to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as another key factor in our licensing program by 2022/23. Then the following year, we want to introduce incentives, but also sanctions should a club fail to meet the minimum criteria.”

The criteria itself will be finalised with external experts in the coming weeks and months.

Multiple German clubs have been extremely well received for their commitment to sustainability over the years.

Wolfsburg, who are currently first in the Bundesliga this season, were ranked the most environmentally sustainable club earlier this year in a report conducted by Sport Positive.

The report highlighted Wolfsburg’s dedication to using 100 per cent green energy across the club by using bioplastic cups and for ensuring zero landfill waste, whilst offering vegan options at their stadium on game-day. The club’s website also contains a corporate responsibility page with information about climate protection and environmental initiatives, as they plan to be carbon neutral by 2025.

Freiburg have used solar energy at their Schwarzwald-Stadion since 1993, with their new stadium to follow suit when it opens in October. The new facility will also have green energy storage and plug-in charging stations.

In 2010, Mainz became the Bundesliga’s and one of the world’s first carbon neutral football clubs.

These promising examples and many others have generally been taken individually , but the DFL now wants to centralise its approach to sustainability.

“The most important step now is to create a framework for the different clubs that are part of the DFL, from a Champions League participant to teams promoted from the third division,” Pfennig said.

It’s a significant task, but the DFL believe they have to play a role in pursuing the best practices in tackling social issues, but they keep a realistic head in their objectives.

“There is no ideal world or ideal football, Pfennig said.

“We are aware that we will have to adjust our goals, also taking into account the background of an enormous change in all areas of life. That’s why we need a framework and always work in improving our goals.”

The centralised method has been successful for the implementation of other initiatives such as Supporter Liaison Officer’s (SLOs) and improvement of youth academies.

These works, which are part of the DFL’s licensing framework, have been copied by other countries around the world and Australia should be keeping a keen eye on them.

While looking to Germany may be a good guide for improving fan to club relations and youth academy developments, they should especially look to follow their upcoming sustainability guidelines.

Australian clubs should be further focusing on improving their efforts towards sustainability, in a country which generally fails to meet any of those types of objectives.

It may be a difficult initial transition but clubs will eventually benefit from this push in the years to come.

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

A-Leagues Unite Round returns for a second season

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have confirmed the return of Unite Round to the A-Leagues for the 2024/25 season with some changes from the first edition.

The A-League’s ‘ultimate away day’ utilises the same idea as the AFL and NRL with ‘Gather Round’ and ‘Magic Round’ respectively, where one round for both men’s and women’s leagues will all be played in one city.

The second instalment of Unite Round will be once again hosted in New South Wales and will now start on 22 November and conclude on 24 November, instead of taking place in January.

The six games from each league will be split into three double headers throughout the weekend. All of the men’s games will be played at Allianz Stadium whereas the women’s games will be played at Leichhardt Oval. However, Commbank Stadium will not be a featured venue, unlike last season.

Due to the inception of Auckland FC into the A-League Men, there will be an uneven number of teams in the league and therefore each club must serve a bye each weekend. The bye will fall onto Melbourne City during Unite Round, but their women’s side will still play that weekend.

The APL seems to be satisfied to give it another shot, but it still raises many questions about what has been done to entice fans to make the journey to New South Wales and what improvements have been implemented to make this round sustainable for future seasons.

Last year’s fixtures showcased many high-scoring games, with four out of the six men’s games during Unite Round having five or more goals scored- with Adelaide United’s Hiroshi Ibuski and Macarthur FC’s Ulises Dávila both scoring hat-tricks during the weekend.

However, crowd numbers were quite low given the stadiums where these games were being played. To provide context, Leichhardt Oval, Commbank Stadium and Allianz Stadium have a venue capacity of 20,000, 30,000 and 42,500 respectively.

A-League Men Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Macarthur FC vs Western United at Commbank Stadium: 3,441
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 7,117
  • Central Coast Mariners vs Melbourne Victory at Allianz Stadium: 8,147
  • Sydney FC vs Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium: 11,918
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Allianz Stadium: 3,948
  • Perth Glory vs Wellington Phoenix at Commbank Stadium: 1,632

A-League Women Unite Round Crowd Numbers:

  • Melbourne Victory vs Perth Glory at Leichhardt Oval: 1,130
  • Wellington Phoenix vs Central Coast Mariners at Leichhardt Oval: 1,938
  • Canberra United vs Adelaide United at Leichhardt Oval: 1,183
  • Brisbane Roar vs Newcastle Jets at Leichhardt Oval: 1,417
  • Western United vs Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium: 4,039
  • Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City at Commbank Stadium: 1,515

For the first time as a way to get more people to travel to New South Wales, full-season members at every club will be given access to complimentary tickets to their club’s fixtures at Unite Round. This could potentially see an increase in crowd numbers, but there are still other factors that may steer fans away from travelling.

According to the Unite Round FAQs on the A-Leagues website, the APL is working with a few providers on travel discounts for fans to travel to New South Wales, but at the moment, flights aren’t the cheapest if you decide to plan ahead.

The cheapest interstate flights in Australia can range from $200 to $600 depending on where you are travelling from. But when you take into account fans of Wellington Phoenix and Auckland FC who may want to travel from New Zealand, the cheapest flights will cost from $400 to $600. Also, fans would need to sort out accommodation and that too is still another expense fans will have to deal with.

The idea to bring Unite Round for a second season enables fans from Australia and New Zealand to come together and celebrate football in one location. The fixtures that have been released should excite all A-League fans as the two New South Wales derbies are being played that weekend.

Taking into consideration the expenses fans have to deal with, it may not be feasible for some fans to enjoy the festivities. However, it’s still early days and the APL could potentially sort out ways for fans to make it easier for them to travel.

Considering the league undergoing some financial troubles, they’ll be hoping to make the most out of Unite Round and continue it for more future seasons to come.

Football Victoria choose INTIX as exclusive ticketing provider

Football Victoria have confirmed a new and exciting partnership with ticketing and membership company INTIX, which will commence in 2024 in time for next season.

INTIX will become the exclusive ticketing provider for all FV-managed events and will be the preferred provider for events at The Home of the Matildas.

This collaboration will also make FV’s event management more efficient and improve communication with fans and sponsors through their CRM systems.

INTIX is an Australian owned and operated company that specialise in event operations, ticketing and marketing specifically for sporting events.

The company was established in 2017 by Alex Grant with an ambitious goal to provide the best ticketing platform available to event organisers, clubs and venues.

INTIX partnered with Melbourne Victory to provide digital ticketing for all its corporate hospitality functions, and they have worked many high-scale football events.

The company also has experience in the NBL with the Tasmanian JackJumpers and in 2021 worked with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services to metropolitan leagues and clubs.

This partnership for FV scratches the surface for what is the possibility in the future for NPL and A-League matches that have completely different systems. The expensive processing fees of Ticketek and Ticketmaster have left many fans frustrated at the process of purchasing their ticket and success with this collaboration could see INTIX expand inside the sport of football.

FV Executive Manager of Commercial, Chris Speldewinde, spoke about the improvements to matchday operations that will be made through this collaboration.

“We are thrilled to join forces with INTIX. Their state-of-the-art ticketing and CRM solutions will not only optimise our operations but also elevate our engagement with fans and sponsors. This collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter for Football Victoria,” he said in a statement.

INTIX’s advanced ticketing system will simplify the purchasing of tickets to these events and be readily available to fans online, reducing wait times to provide seamless access into events.

As the Home of the Matildas begins to stage bigger events, this partnership importantly professionalises the experience of getting to the seat and helps FV manage big crowds a lot easier.

It’s a collaboration that allows FV to focus more on strategic growth initiatives and delivering a better experience for fans and stakeholders.

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