At the start of the second half in Borussia Dortmund's second home game of last season against Werder Bremen, a huge banner was raised across the front of the Südtribüne reading: "Here stands the most expensive season ticket in the Bundesliga."
To many, it may have seemed strange to see German fans protesting about ticket prices. German football is, after all, renowned for its relative affordability and social inclusivity, especially when compared to the costs of attending matches in other European leagues such as the English Premier League.
But the message from the Dortmund fans was factually correct: While the average cost of a Bundesliga standing season ticket last season was €196.80 ($214.72), on Dortmund's South Stand, the famous Yellow Wall, it cost €240 (€14.12 per game), up from €219 in the last pre-pandemic season.
"Quo vadis, BVB?" read a smaller banner from critical supporters – where next? The answer ahead of the 2023-24 season, which Dortmund start at home to Cologne on Saturday: a further €10 increase to €250, or €14.71 per game.
For an additional €30, season-ticket holders can also guarantee their tickets for each of Dortmund's three Champions League home group games.
"As in previous years, Borussia Dortmund has liaised with supporter representatives to combat the economic challenges posed by almost 7% inflation and significantly increased stadium operating costs," read a club statement, highlighting that price increases in all categories are below the rate of inflation.
So, how cheap is German football really?
The average cost of a standing season ticket in the Bundesliga this season is €205.47, but price structures are nuanced and distinctions have to be made between standing terraces and seats, season ticket holders and one-off visitors, home and away fans, domestic and international competition and often from club to club and region to region.
But for a basic overview, the graphic below details the basic cost of standing season tickets at each Bundesliga club in the 2023-24 season, as well as the cheapest and most expensive (non-VIP) seats, as compiled by the St. Pauli fan blog and podcast millernton.de.
Figures for clubs in Bundesliga 2 can be found further down.
The original order of the clubs in the table is determined by the total cost of standing ticket + cheapest seat + most expensive seat, admittedly not a particularly relevant figure in itself but it serves to rank the table in the first instance. Click on the columns to sort the prices from highest to lowest and vice-versa.
'Safe standing' in the Bundesliga
Let's start with the terraces which, unlike in England, were never banned in Germany. Every Bundesliga stadium has standing sections, usually behind the goal and in part of the away end, where hardcore, vocal supporters benefit from cheaper prices and generate the atmosphere.
Unlike the so-called "safe standing" sections which have been reintroduced to several Premier League grounds in recent years, most Bundesliga stadiums don't operate convertible "rail seating," but rather old-fashioned, unreserved terracing, divided into blocks and dotted with crush barriers.
It goes without saying that these modern terraces bear no comparison to the crumbling death traps of Hillsborough or Ibrox and that they are properly policed, with access to standing blocks controlled by scanners and stewards and exit routes clearly marked.
And this season, Borussia Dortmund's standing tickets are no longer the most expensive in the Bundesliga. That honor goes to newly promoted Darmstadt, where a standing ticket behind the goal at the recently redeveloped Böllenfalltor stadium costs €256 (or €15.06 per game), up €74 on last season's second-division price.
At the other end of the scale, the cheapest standing tickets in the Bundesliga this season can be found at TSG Hoffenheim (unchanged at €150, or just €8.82 per game) and VfL Wolfsburg (up €15 to €160).
It's true: you literally can watch the perennial German champions for less than a tenner (€9.70 per game) with a Südkurve season ticket – if you can get one. Which, dear reader, you probably can't. The waiting list is currently closed.
Of course, most one-off visitors to Bundesliga games will only be interested in buying single matchday tickets, or Tageskarten. Clubs do offer Tageskarten for the terraces, but these are limited in number, generally restricted to club members and cost more – often with a small administration fee added as well.
For example, a standing Tageskarte at Bayern Munich this season, if you can get one, costs €15. Single Borussia Dortmund standing tickets cost €18.50. Union Berlin charge €13 to €15 depending on the stand, while Eintracht Frankfurt, who have removed the seats in the upper tier of the Nordwestkurve at the Waldstadion to create the second-biggest standing terrace in the country, are charging €15.
Bundesliga seat prices: not too different to the Premier League
With demand for standing tickets high, one-off visitors to the most popular German clubs are more likely to end up with seats. Here, prices vary greatly. At the top of end, they don't vary much from Premier League prices but, at the cheaper end, remain affordable.
The cheapest seated season tickets in the Bundesliga can once again be found at Wolfsburg (€250, or €14.71 per game) and Hoffenheim (€262, or €15.41 per game), but also at Bayer Leverkusen (€290, or €17.06 per game).
At the other end of the scale, the cheapest seats at Eintracht Frankfurt start at €455 (€26.76 per game), €460 (€27.06 per game) at Borussia Dortmund, and €489 (€28.76 per game) in Cologne.
Seated season tickets start even higher at Union Berlin (€510 or €30 per game) and Darmstadt (€576 or €33.88 per game), although it should be noted that both clubs' stadiums have higher-than-average proportions of cheaper standing places.
At Darmstadt's Böllenfalltor stadium, terracing makes up almost half of the total 17,810 capacity (including in paddocks alongside the pitch for €323 per season or €19 per game), while Union's 22,000-capacity Stadion an der Alten Försterei is famously over 80% standing.
The most expensive season tickets in the Bundesliga can be found at Borussia Dortmund (€860 or €50.59 per game), RB Leipzig (€924 or €54.35 per game) and – again – Cologne (€978 or €57.53 per game).
Seats at Bayern Munich range from €385 (€22.64 per game) on the top tier of the Allianz Arena behind the goals to €840 (€49.41) for prime seats along the sides of the pitch.
Once again, single-match Tageskarte seats are more expensive, generally starting in the €30-€40 range but topping out at €76 for "category A" fixtures in Frankfurt, €79 in Cologne and €80 at Bayern Munich.
Last season, the most expensive single match ticket in the Bundesliga was to be found at RB Leipzig, who were charging €90 for prime seats against Bayern and Dortmund, but the club was unable to provide DW with precise prices for "category A" fixtures this season.
Bundesliga: what else do I need to know?
Free travel: Most Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs (and even some further down the pyramid) have arrangements with local transport authorities which allow fans in possession of match tickets to travel to and from games for free on public transport.
Free travel is generally only valid for around three hours before kickoff and strictly only on local, regional trains (RE/RB) and buses in the immediate local travel region. In other words, not the fast, long-distance, inter-city trains (ICE/IC/EC).
Borussia Dortmund match tickets include travel within the entire state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), although you have to print off a separate ticket.
Alcohol: Beer and other alcoholic beverages are on sale at most games, with the exception of certain fixtures deemed "high-risk" and alcohol can be consumed in the stands while watching the game.
Away fans: In the Bundesliga, 10% of stadium capacity is allocated to the away team, meaning away followings of 5,000-6,000 and more are commonplace. On the opening day of the season, over 8,400 Cologne supporters will accompany their team to Dortmund.
Away ends are split into standing and seating, but away supporters – even those wearing team colours – are also generally tolerated in home sections, provided they behave respectfully and avoid the main home terrace.
Edited by: Chuck Penfold