Surprise Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig only exist to increase profits for Red Bull, Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has said.
A 2-1 win over Schalke last week prolonged Leipzig’s unbeaten start to their first season in the Bundesliga and gave them a three-point advantage at the top of the table over Bayern Munich.
The club were only formed in 2009 as a successor entity to SSV Markranstadt but have soared through the levels of German football thanks to significant financial backing from Red Bull.
That level of investment, combined with a lack of control from fan members compared to other Bundesliga sides and the prevalence of the drinks giants’ branding throughout the club, has caused resentment within much of German football.
Although Watzke admits it is good to see another challenger to Bayern’s dominance in the title race, he has rubbished the notion that Leipzig’s performances should be viewed in the same way as those of shock Premier League champions Leicester City last season.
“They make very good work in sport. But it’s a club built to push up the revenues of Red Bull, and nothing else,” he told the BBC.
“There’s not a tradition. Leicester City play football for 100 years or more. Leicester City are not so big in financial things like Man U, Man City, Liverpool or the other big clubs.
“But Leipzig, from the economic situation, they have the most money behind Bayern Munich in Germany because they have Red Bull behind them. And if they want to, they can pay any price.
“It’s good for the league [that Leipzig are top] because the race to be champions was closed, but the construct of Leipzig is not mine.
“In German football, the clubs belong to the fans, to the spectators, and our pricing level is very cheap. A lot of fans came from England to watch Borussia Dortmund for 11 euros.”
Watzke concedes that Dortmund must be “creative” in the way they rebuild their first team as the club’s biggest stars become tempted by more lucrative offers from elsewhere.
But the fans, he says, completely understand the way in which the club must be run and do not mourn the losses of players such as Robert Lewandowski or Henrikh Mkhitaryan for long.
“We cannot think that our players stay for five or six years but we have to create new players,” he said. “Without big big money, you must creative, you must do a very good job in organisation.
“The way of Borussia Dortmund is to create a new team every two or three years. When Lewandowski left and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang came, nobody in Dortmund was crying, ‘Oh, what will happen now’.
“When Mkhitaryan goes to Manchester United, [Ousmane] Dembele is here, and so on. It’s our creative way.
“Our fans are a piece of Borussia Dortmund, not a customer. It’s an unbelievable club. It’s special.”