Bundesliga giants may visit S'pore in 2015 Asian tour

Come July next year, football stars Shinji Kagawa, Marco Reus and Mats Hummels could be strutting their skills at Singapore's new National Stadium.

Borussia Dortmund officials revealed yesterday that the Republic is a likely destination during the German giants' tour of Asia next summer.

"We are to looking to play matches in Singapore and Japan to raise our profile, as well as bottom-up initiatives to have a legacy in Asia - we are not just money-grabbers," the club's marketing director Carsten Cramer told The Straits Times.

The eight-time German Bundesliga champions, who boast an overseas fan base of 11.8 million, are keen to grow their appeal across the region.

Yesterday, they opened their first office outside Germany at the International Business Park in Boon Lay, with Singaporean Suresh Letchmanan, 41, as their chief representative, tasked with tackling a market saturated with European football offerings.

Cramer said: "We are not here to compete with the English Premier League - we need time and opening an office does not mean anything if you don't build on it."

Dortmund are the latest top European football club to set up shop in Asia. Chelsea and Arsenal base their regional operations here, while Manchester United and Barcelona are in Hong Kong.

Backed by the success of their first overseas academy in Tokyo, Dortmund are looking to set up a similar school in Singapore to spread their philosophy of free-flowing football.

On the verge of insolvency in 2005, the German side have turned themselves around, enjoying sales revenues of €260 million (S$417 million) last season. Main sponsor Evonik Industries - whose South-east Asian branch is located next to Dortmund's new Singapore office - recently extended its deal with the club till the 2024-2025 season.

While player wages and ticket prices in the EPL continue to skyrocket, the Bundesliga maintains a sense of order. For example, Dortmund's cheapest season ticket costs £160 (S$328) - over six times less than Arsenal's (£1,014).

Cramer said: "We want to open the eyes of fans in Asia.

"I challenge anyone to watch a Bundesliga match and tell me it's not as entertaining as the EPL."

This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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