The club from German Bundesliga takes a serious approach to match its Champions League ambitions.
TTC Neu-Ulm was founded recently, in 2019. In its first season, the Bavarian club reached the 8th position in the German Bundesliga but currently, Neu-Ulm has a young core of talented players, such as Vladimir Sidorenko, Lev Katsman, Ioannis Sgouropoulos. They play alongside Portuguese veteran Tiago Apolonia.
However, for the 2022/23 Champions League season, the German club has taken a very serious approach to winning it all. Neu-Ulm will bring together a new roster of players, and the concept looks similar to their Bundesliga team. It features three young talents – Tomokazu Harimoto, Lin Yun-ju, and Truls Moregardh. The veteran of this Champions League roster will be the 33-year-old German veteran Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who played in Russia for the last 12 years and won seven Russian Premier League titles, as well as five Champions League titles as a member of Gazprom Fakel Orenburg.
Such a move by Neu-Ulm reminds the philosophy that the rich football clubs, such as Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are following. To get the continental prize, you must invest a lot. Previously, the top Russian clubs were the best-paid options for the world’s leading players to not only win the local and continental titles but also secure a lucrative contract. Now the situation has changed, and the landscape of European club table tennis might have a new destination for the top players in Neu-Ulm. At the moment, seems like it might, not will.
Of course, globally there is still China out there with their Super League and all the best players in the world. The Chinese system and philosophy are completely different, and foreign players don’t play any significant role there. In terms of the German table tennis landscape, it is hard to predict a long-lasting future for clubs with serious star power. Table tennis is a popular sport there, but not to that of a large extent to allow Bundesliga clubs to invest serious funds and attract the biggest names in our sport on a regular basis. The German economy is likely to also take a hit due to War in Ukraine, and it will definitely impact the number of sponsorship funds the sports clubs get.
If we will see the same type of Neu-Ulm roster competing in the 2023/24 Bundesliga, it will be a good sign. If this will become just a way to win the Champions League or simply a one-season wonder, there is nothing more to add here. The time will show how it all plays out, but it will be interesting to follow the development of Neu-Ulm. Ambitions are definitely there, but will the management of the German club have the proper amount of talent and knowledge to match those – it is still a question.
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