The Internationalization Process of a Leading European Football Club: A Potential Market Entry Strategy of FC Bayern Munich in the Indian Market

Constantin Graf von Pueckler

Student thesis: Master thesis


With the on-going commercialisation process of football in the last decade, the significance of economic success has increased considerably and also become the main driving force behind sportive success of top European clubs. The emerging remunerative nature of professional football has transformed sports management into an integral part of the global business environment. As a result of the actual growth and future prospects of sports markets, football clubs have evolved into corporate entities that diligently uphold core business principles and also implement strategic management practices within their organisations. For many top football clubs in Europe, the development of national sources of revenues is nearing the limits. By way of derogation from industrial entities, which can open up new market potentials nationally as well as internationally through product diversification and alternative distribution channels, a football club such as Bayern Munich has only ‘one’ product. Therefore, internationalisation strategies have been developed by the clubs to tap into additional market potentials; of course without neglecting the respective home markets. While leading English and Spanish clubs have been generating revenues through internationalisation since the past several years, the German Bundesliga and its ‘market leader’ Bayern Munich began to explore international options just a few of years ago. A leading football club’s aim of going international is to increase the club’s recognition in foreign markets and to generate additional revenues through new sponsorship deals and merchandising. After having entered the US market in 2014, Bayern Munich’s next important plan is to open an office in China in 2015. Another prospective football market that the club is eyeing for the coming years is the Indian market. Enthusiasm for and engagement with football is increasing more and more among Indians, and this is illustrated by the successful launch of the Indian Super League in 2014 and the hosting of the Under-17 FIFA World Cup 2017. Entering any new market is a challenging process that requires systematic and strategic planning and also needs an adequate management capacity. For the sustainable implementation of its brand, it is essential to develop applicable strategies, which can facilitate the market entry and further emphasize the club’s positioning within this industry. In this context, various factors have to be considered. Against this backdrop, the current study was conducted to examine a potential internationalization and market entry strategy that Bayern Munich should pursue to successfully penetrate the Indian sport industry as well as to establish a sustainable and lucrative market share along with integrating with the dynamics of the local market. A comparison between the internationalisation process of an industrial entity and the internationalisation process of a leading European football club leads one to realize that there are a lot of similarities between the two processes. Following a comparative analysis of the findings from interviews with experts from the football market, one can conclude that regarding Bayern Munich’s market entry strategy for the Indian market, the key factor, which is also in line with the theory of classical internationalisation process, is that the club has to first invest in the target country in order to potentially generate revenues in the long-run. Therefore, Bayern Munich must make an investment in the basic infrastructure of the yet undeveloped Indian football market at the beginning to sustainably establish itself and succeed in the Indian market. Then, together with the Deutsche Fussball Liga, Bayern Munich has to popularise German football in India before the club could start promoting its brand. These are the preliminary steps that are necessary before the materialization of the investment can start.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages132