FC Bayern Munich has consistently expanded its youth network in international football in recent years – now there could be a roundabout way of working with another club.
At the FC Wacker Innsbruck General Assembly on Wednesday, 98 percent of the members voted in favor of a strategic partnership with Los Angeles FC. At first glance, the cooperation seems quite strange: here the reigning champions of the North American MLS, there an Austrian fourth division team.
But Wacker Innsbruck is no ordinary fourth division team. After all, the Tyroleans are ten-time Austrian champions, have a large fan base and, with the Tivoli, also have a decent stadium. Since the last championship title in 2002 under coach Joachim Löw, things have gone steadily downhill due to financial problems. At the end of last season, the then second division team did not get a license and therefore had to be relegated to the fourth division.
At that time, there were even expressions of solidarity from the active fan scene of FC Bayern Munich. “If the fans stand by his side, FC Wacker will never go down. Fight, Tivoli Nord,” read a banner on the south stand of the Allianz Arena.
However, millions in the US should now ensure the turnaround. “We believe in the fan base and believe that together we can build a successful team that will ultimately return to the Bundesliga,” said LAFC Vice President Benny Tran. Again ORF reported, FC Bayern also plays a role in the cooperation between Wacker and LAFC – and that is quite obvious.
FC Bayern Munich and its cooperations
It was only in March that the Munich team concluded a youth cooperation with LAFC and founded a joint venture called “Red & Gold Football” for this purpose. FC Bayern’s press release at the time said: “The aim of the cooperation is to train international talents, also in cooperation with partner clubs, for their own teams and for professional football.”
Wacker Innsbruck should now be the first partner club of this construct, a second could soon follow with the Uruguayan first division club River Plate. “It is true that we are holding initial talks in Uruguay,” confirmed Oliver Kahn, the CEO Picture (All the background information is here). Red Bull and City Football Group have had similar networks in recent years.
Apart from the cooperation with LAFC, FC Bayern has also maintained a partnership with MLS club FC Dallas since 2018 and with FC Wuhan Three Towns from the Chinese Super League since 2020. In addition to promoting talent, this cooperation also involves opening up the huge growth markets of the USA and China. Years ago, FC Bayern opened offices abroad in New York and Shanghai, followed by another in the Thai capital Bangkok in 2022.
Talents have also moved to Munich from Dallas and Wuhan. The American Chris Richards was sold to Crystal Palace for twelve million euros last summer after a few professional appearances; 19-year-old keeper Shaoziyang Liu became the first Chinese player in the history of FC Bayern and is currently on loan to Austrian second division club Grazer AK.
FC Bayern Munich: Austria is a popular rental destination
Austria is generally a popular loan destination for up-and-coming Bayern Munich players. Similar culture, similar language, short distances. That’s why the Munich team has been looking for a partner club in Austria for a long time. Two years ago, FC Bayern missed the opportunity to work with SKN St. Pölten. Despite mutual interest, VfL Wolfsburg intervened and announced a cooperation with St. Pölten.
Since then, FC Bayern has parked a noticeable number of talents at Austria Klagenfurt, currently for example Emilian Metu (20) and Daniel Francis (19), until January also Liu (19), who has since been passed on to GAK. Munich youth boss Jochen Sauer and Klagenfurt’s chief scout Manfred Linzmaier know each other very well, as they once worked together for RB Salzburg for a long time. As the Small newspaper reported, the LAFC actually planned to join Austria at the end of last year. Because the deal fell through, they turned from Carinthia to Tyrol.
FC Bayern wants to make itself more interesting for sought-after talents with its many different partnerships of varying degrees of closeness. “The leap from the fourth and third leagues to the professionals has become very big,” said Kahn recently. “That’s why we have to offer our talented people other attractive options for their further development.”
The classic route from the campus via the in-house reserve to the professionals is difficult and also not really attractive, as it currently only plays in the Bavarian regional league, which is not very demanding in terms of sport. A return to the 3rd division will not be possible this season, the gap to leaders SpVgg Unterhaching is 21 points. Wacker Innsbruck, on the other hand, is only five points behind leaders Völser SV in the fourth-class Tyrolean league.