Why Does The Bundesliga Play 34 Games

Why Does The Bundesliga Only Have 34 Games Per Team?

Last updated on February 17th, 2021

You may have been reading the tables of the different European leagues, but you realised that the Bundesliga only has 34 games!

Why is this so when the other top leagues have 38 games?

Why are there only 34 games in the Bundesliga?

The Bundesliga only comprises of 18 teams in the league. Each team plays against the 17 other teams in a double round-robin format. Since each team plays the other 17 teams twice, they will only play 34 league games in a season.

In the Bundesliga, there are only 18 teams. However, other top-flight leagues have 20 teams, including:

  1. Premier League
  2. La Liga
  3. Ligue 1
  4. Serie A

For those 4 leagues, one season will have 38 matches. This is because one team will play against the other 19 teams twice.

However, the Bundesliga only has 18 teams. This is why they will only play 34 matches!

Why does the Bundesliga only have 18 teams?

The Bundesliga initially started off with 16 teams in 1963. When Hertha Berlin’s licence was revoked in 1965, the German FA did not relegate the bottom 2 teams, Schalke and Karlsruhe. Instead, they swapped Hertha Berlin with Tasmania Berlin. Meanwhile, Bayern and Monchengladbach were promoted to form the 18-team league.

This led to the Bundesliga having 18 teams!

Hertha Berlin had their licence revoked

The German FA realised that Hertha Berlin had some financial irregularities, which included:

  1. Transfer fees
  2. Signing bonuses
  3. Player wages

There was enough evidence such that the German FA were able to revoke Hertha Berlin’s license!

It was reported that Hertha Berlin was trying to bribe players to play in Berlin. This was because not many players wanted to do so after the Berlin Wall was erected.

No teams were relegated and 2 teams were promoted

The German FA did not want to have further legal battles regarding the Bundesliga membership with the other clubs. Karlsruher SC and Schalke 04 were the bottom 2 clubs in the 1964/65 season, and were supposed to be relegated.

Since Hertha Berlin had already been relegated, Schalke and Karlsruher wanted to claim Hertha Berlin’s spot in the league.

To avoid further confusion, the German FA decided they would not relegate any other clubs. Moreover, both Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach were both promoted into the Bundesliga.

This was after both teams won their respective groups in the promotion round of the 1964/65 Regionalliga.

Tasmania Berlin was granted promotion as well

There were some political influence in Germany where they wanted a team in Berlin to play in the Bundesliga.

Tennis Borussia Berlin could not get promoted as they lost out in the Bundesliga promotion playoffs. Meanwhile, the second highest Berlin team, Spandauer SV refused to get promoted.

Tennis Borussia Berlin is one of the clubs that have Borussia in their name due to their Prussian roots.

As such, third-placed SC Tasmania 1900 Berlin was promoted to take Hertha Berlin’s place!

This led to the 18-team league that has been around ever since.

Tasmania Berlin performed very poorly in the Bundesliga

Tasmania Berlin performed rather well in the Regionalliga. However, they were completely outmatched in the Bundesliga.

This could be due to the Regionalliga being split up into 5 regional divisions. Moreover, the Berlin division was considered to be quite weak in terms of the players’ quality and its small size.

They were relegated with just 8 points from 34 games!

No plans for expansion to 20 teams

The Bundesliga actually had a 20 team season in 1991/92! This was due to the reunification of Germany, and the Bundesliga contained teams from East Germany.

However, this only lasted for one season, and the Bundesliga has been back to 18 teams ever since.

While most other European leagues have 20 teams, the Bundesliga still chooses to have 18 teams.

One reason why this could be so is due to the winter break that the Bundesliga has. It usually lasts around 4 weeks between December to January.

If the Bundesliga expands to 20 teams, they may no longer be able to accommodate this winter break! This is because there are now 4 more matches that each team has to play.

Moreover, the Bundesliga does not have many mid-week matches unlike other leagues.

Why does the Bundesliga have a winter break?

The weather in Germany during the month of January is near freezing, with an average of 3°C. Instead of playing in these harsh conditions, the Bundesliga opts to takes a break. This also gives the players a prolonged rest period so that they can be recharged for the next half of the season.

The winter season for Germany lasts between December to February, with January being the coldest. Since it can go as low as 0°C in Hamburg, it can be really tough to play football in these conditions!

There have been some moments like the one below, where Genki Haraguchi was denied a goal as the ball did fully cross the line!

Some Bundesliga matches still have been played in the snow. From the video below, you can see how tough the conditions can be!

Having that 4 week break during the harshest weather in Germany really makes sense. It gives the players a rest, and they do not need to play in the snow too!

Moreover, the players may be fully recharged for the second half of the season. This is even more important for the top teams who are representing Germany in the Champions League!

Conclusion

The Bundesliga only has 34 games since there are only 18 teams in the league.

The reason why they expanded to 18 teams is mainly due to political reasons. This occurred in the 1965/66 season.

However, the Bundesliga has not chosen to expand to 20 teams, which other European leagues have done so. One of the possible reasons why they chose not to could be due to the harsh winter conditions in January.

The Bundesliga usually has a 4 week long winter break from December to January. This helps the players to rest while the harsh winter rages on.

If the Bundesliga had 20 teams, they may not be able to fit all fixtures into the season while having the 4 week break.

As such, it may make more sense for the Bundesliga to remain as an 18 team league!

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