Borussia Dortmund hope their partnership with famed NPL New South Wales club Marconi Stallions is just their first Australian initiative and will “open the floodgates” for future growth and brand exposure down under.
Announced last week, Marconi became one of Dortmund’s five feeder clubs across the Asia-Pacific region, which also includes clubs from Thailand, Malaysia, China and Singapore.
Importantly for Australia, it could be just the beginning of the famous Black and Yellow’s presence.
“I think it (the Marconi partnership) is massive for us, it’s the first step for us into the Australian market,” BVB Asia-Pacific Managing Director Suresh Letchmanan said on Wednesday’s Daily Football Show.
“We were actually planning to go into Australia at a much earlier stage, but unfortunately we have strategies that have been placed and southeast Asia was of the biggest interest for us because of our existing partners there.
“Australia’s always been a big influence for us in terms of football, having identified or having seen the likes of Mitch Langerak and Mustafa Amini and Ned Zelic and there was an opportunity for us to have a further presence in Australia.
“But I think it had to take a while. We had to go through the processes and I think the opportunity for us this time, to go into Australia with Marconi, I think it will potentially open the floodgates for us.”
Dortmund’s vision for Australia could involve a preseason friendly as soon as 2020. In fact, the Sydney Morning Herald reported a match this year was almost locked in with Sydney FC, but a date could not be agreed by the clubs.
It could be on for next year though, and Dortmund are eager to make up some of the ground already covered by English and Spanish clubs.
Since 2012, the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United – who will return to Australia this July – Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have all taken their brands to Australia in preseason friendlies or tournaments.
None of the Bundesliga powers have embarked on high-profile tours of Australia in the 21st century.
Over time, Dortmund have entrenched themselves as not only a Bundesliga power but a European one, featuring regularly in title races and in the Champions League knockout phase.
This season, they are atop the table, two points ahead of fierce rivals Bayern Munich.
The club’s famous – raucous – Yellow Wall is unmistakable and a constant highlight, and this season alone, Dortmund’s average home attendance sits at around 81,000.
Letchmanan said a friendly in Australia was a consideration for Dortmund officials, but in organising such a match, the club will be looking to return to Europe with more than just frequent flyer points.
And if it is not next year, the wait after that will not be long.
“We run our own race. The competition for European clubs is out there. Southeast Asia, Asia and even Australia, it’s very much driven by the Premier League clubs and I think they’ve done much better homework in getting into the market earlier than the Bundesliga clubs … and also some of the Spanish clubs,” he added from Singapore.
“We had to find a real angle as to why we would like to go to a country like Australia. It mustn’t be purely a commercial angle that we’re looking at.
“We can obviously fill a stadium of 90,000. There must be a more emotional connection beneath that. Dortmund needs to do a little bit more to try and get a footprint in Australia to begin with.
“The likes of Liverpool and Real Madrid, they’re household brands, household names. I’m not saying we are playing second fiddle to clubs like them, but the marketing they have done way in advance probably gives them much more of a head start compared to a club like Borussia Dortmund.
“That doesn’t discount that we want to take the step to come to Australia, which I think at some stage over the next 12 months we are considering touring Australia.
“We have a good relationship with our former coach Jurgen Klopp and he mentioned to us and said, ‘guys, you need to come to Australia, it’s a different experience altogether’ and that’s something we took note of.
“We want to make sure that when we come there, we want to engage with our fans, we want to engage with the media, we want to connect with the people, the football industry as a whole.
“We don’t just want to fly in for a couple of days and fly out. That’s not our intention. We want to grow our fanbase and presence is so important for us … there must be something a little more tangible for us apart from a football game.”