Doing a Deal in Austria

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Welcome to the next chapter of our comprehensive blog series, „How to Complete a Football Transfer Anywhere in the World.“ This time, we’re setting our sights on the enchanting footballing landscape of Austria. For experienced and aspiring football agents seeking to expand their horizons and gain insights into the intricacies of global football transfers, this chapter serves as a valuable guide. As we delve into the specific regulations, practices, and nuances that define football deals in Austria, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of information that will empower you to navigate this unique market with confidence and precision.

From the storied traditions of Austrian clubs to the aspirations of emerging talents, each facet of this footballing journey contributes to the vibrant mosaic that is Austrian football. We’ll explore the intricacies of player contracts, the influence of the “Österreicher-Topf”, and the dynamics of transfers within and beyond the borders. By the time you reach the final sentence of this chapter, you’ll be armed with invaluable insights that will empower you to navigate the Austrian football transfer landscape with finesse.

The main differences

When it comes to the world of football, each country weaves its own unique tapestry, rich with traditions, strategies, and dynamics that shape the beautiful game. Austria stands as a fascinating chapter in this global narrative, with a football ecosystem that boasts distinctive characteristics setting it apart from its counterparts. As we venture into the heart of Austrian football, we uncover a series of intriguing contrasts that define its transfer landscape.

In Austria, the transfer windows exhibit a pattern distinct from many other countries. The summer transfer window, open for over 70 days from the last week of June until September 1st, takes center stage as the primary period for player acquisitions and sales. This extended timeframe offers clubs ample opportunity to strategize and execute deals that align with their goals. The secondary transfer window during the regular season unfolds during a concise four-week period from January 7th to February 6th, presenting a window of opportunity within the competitive flow of the league.

One notable hallmark of Austrian football lies in its clubs‘ shrewd buying strategy. Austrian clubs have developed a reputation for their preference to acquire players at reasonable costs. This often involves signing free agents or securing players for a minimal transfer fee, reflecting a calculated approach that balances financial prudence with player quality.

The Austrian Bundesliga employs a strategic approach to talent development through loan arrangements. Clubs often look to their neighboring markets, such as Germany, to secure loan deals for promising talents. These players have the chance to develop and refine their skills within the Austrian Bundesliga, enhancing their capabilities before transitioning to the demanding stage of the German Bundesliga.

Figure 1: Top ten transfer streams by number of transfers without the United Kingdom (2022)   I   Source: FIFA Global Transfer Report 2022 

The Austrian Bundesliga showcases a unique blend of powerhouse and underdog dynamics. Clubs like Red Bull Salzburg dominate the league, backed by advanced financial resources that position them as perennial favorites for the championship. Their prowess and financial prowess often set them apart from their competitors. Additionally, clubs like Sturm Graz have carved their niche through intelligent recruitment strategies steering their course with astute choices.

The heart of Austrian football beats to a rhythm that emphasizes youth development and profit. Clubs place a strong emphasis on identifying young talents with untapped potential, aiming to secure them at favorable terms. This commitment to nurturing and enhancing young players translates into a league where talent blossoms, drawing attention from across the football world.

Austria’s football ecosystem is often described as a „seller’s league“, a designation that underscores the league’s primary focus on generating returns through player sales. Clubs invest in nurturing and refining talent, crafting a pathway to progression that culminates in transfers to bigger leagues. This intricate balance between development and profit underscores the league’s commitment to creating a sustainable and thriving football ecosystem.

Financial and payment details

In Austria, the timing of transfers significantly influences the financial landscape. The summer transfer window emerges as the primary arena for bigger transfers, with clubs seeking to fortify their squads ahead of the upcoming season. The winter transfer window, while active, tends to be less conducive to substantial player movements. This pattern underscores the significance of the summer window as a period of intensified financial activity.

Comparing the financial aspects of Austrian football to the top leagues in Europe reveals a notable distinction. On the whole, Austrian clubs tend to operate with significantly lower transfer fees and player salaries. An exception to this trend is Red Bull Salzburg, which boasts a distinct financial muscle that allows them to transcend the general financial landscape of the Austrian Bundesliga.

This divergence from the financial extravagance often associated with the top European leagues is marked by pragmatism and financial restraint. However, there is also another course: The relative share of TV money for Bundesliga teams in Austria is lower compared to other leagues. Sponsor money in particular takes up the majority of the budget. The main sponsor is often included as an addition to the club’s name.



Main Sponsor


FC Red Bull Salzburg

Red Bull

Energy Drink

SK Sturm Graz



SK Rapid Wien

Wien Energie





FC Admira Wacker Mödling


Online Printing

SV Guntamatic Ried


Heating Technology

FK Austria Wien


Heating Technology

SCR Altach


Sports Betting

Wolfsberger AC

RZ Pellets


WSG Swarovski Tirol



TSV Hartberg


Dairy Products

SK Austria Klagenfurt

Antenne Kärnten

Radio Station


Austria’s football ecosystem thrives on strategic partnerships with Eastern European and Scandinavian markets. These regions serve as key target markets for new players entering the Austrian league. The acquisition of talents from these areas augments the league’s talent pool while presenting an avenue for cost-effective transfers. This calculated approach to player recruitment aligns with the financial pragmatism that characterizes Austrian football.

Within the intricate financial framework of Austrian football, player employment contracts emerge as a vital element. Collective agreements between the Austrian Bundesliga and the Austrian Union for Football Players form the bedrock of these contracts. While these contracts adhere to standardized terms, the inclusion of add-ons and additional financial clauses adds an element of flexibility, allowing for tailored agreements that align with individual player profiles.

A notable peculiarity within Austrian football lies in its quoting of financial details as ‚gross‘ values. Unlike the conventional ’net‘ values often used globally, Austrian clubs and agents negotiate and present deals using gross figures. This distinct approach offers a transparent perspective, revealing the full financial impact of a deal without the deductions that characterize net values.

The Austrian tax law significantly differentiates between individual athletes predominantly active abroad and team athletes. For instance, a professional football player is usually taxed according to the Income Tax Act regulations, while an unrestricted individual athlete who competes mainly abroad benefits from the Athlete Flat Rate Regulation. The crucial advantage lies in the fact that only 33% of the athlete’s (domestic) income and total advertising income are considered as the basis for calculation. In contrast, a football player is subject to progressive taxation, including the top tax rate, for their entire (advertising) income. This results in a significant discrepancy: a skier, for example, would pay a maximum of 16.5% of their domestic advertising income (assuming a 50% top tax rate), while a football player with the same income could face a tax burden of up to 50%. This unjust differentiation places team athletes at a financial disadvantage.

Working Visa Requirements

The football ecosystem in Austria is not only shaped by the prowess on the pitch but also by the intricate web of regulations governing the participation of foreign players. As we delve into the working visa requirements and foreign player rules, a significant aspect that comes to the forefront is the „Österreicher-Topf,“ a concept that plays a pivotal role in maintaining equilibrium within the league.

After the so-called Bosman ruling, the number of football legionnaires also increased in Austria. While only 33 football legionnaires played in the Austrian Bundesliga before, there were soon almost 100. With the introduction of the “Austria pot”, more Austrian football players came to play again, and the number of football legionnaires decreased. All football clubs in Austria used these funds as an additional source of income.

The „Österreicher-Topf,“ which translates to the „Austria Pot,“ encapsulates a mechanism designed to ensure a balanced composition of foreign and domestic players within Austrian football clubs. This mechanism underscores the Austrian Football Association’s commitment to nurturing homegrown talents while also welcoming international players who enrich the league’s diversity and competitiveness.

At its core, the Österreicher-Topf operates as a regulatory safeguard against the overreliance on foreign players. Austrian clubs are limited in the number of non-EU and non-European Economic Area (EEA) players they can field in a matchday squad. This restriction stimulates the cultivation of domestic talents and safeguards the opportunity for local players to thrive on the national stage. The Österreicher-Topf thus ensures that the Austrian Bundesliga remains a breeding ground for both local and international talents, fostering a dynamic blend of footballing styles and experiences.

The Österreicher-Topf exemplifies the league’s commitment to maintaining a delicate balance between the influx of foreign talents and the promotion of domestic players. Clubs are allotted a certain number of „slots“ for non-EU and non-EEA players in their matchday squads. By imposing this allocation, the mechanism prevents clubs from disproportionately relying on foreign talents and creates a level playing field that fosters fair competition.

Figure 2: „Österreicher-Topf“ 2021/22   I   Source: ÖFB


Beyond its immediate impact on matchday squads, the Österreicher-Topf influences clubs‘ long-term strategies. The restriction on foreign players propels clubs to invest in nurturing and developing their domestic talents. This emphasis on homegrown players not only strengthens the national player pool but also fuels a sense of pride and identity within Austrian football.

However, the Austria pot is highly controversial, and the trend is rising. FK Austria Wien, in the Frank Stronach era and currently Red Bull Salzburg and Sturm Graz, waive(d) on financial support from the „Austria pot“ due to their financial patrons, but also disregarded the associated regulations.

Additional Points to Note

Beyond the vibrant dynamics of transfers and player regulations, the Austrian Bundesliga presents additional facets that shape its identity and influence its journey through the global football landscape.

Austria’s modest geographical expanse contributes to the distinctive nature of its football league. The country’s relatively small size fosters an intimate connection between fans and clubs, creating an atmosphere where football becomes an intrinsic part of the local culture. The Austrian Bundesliga encapsulates this sense of unity, where communities rally around their clubs with fervor, enriching the league’s intimate and spirited ambiance.

In the realm of financial resources, the Austrian Bundesliga operates in a distinct landscape compared to the colossal coffers of football giants. The league’s smaller viewer base, fewer sponsorships, and less lucrative TV deals are a testament to its distinct financial backdrop. This difference, however, does not dampen the league’s charm but rather underscores its authenticity, highlighting the footballing passion that transcends economic measures.

With only twelve clubs in the first division, the Austrian Bundesliga boasts a compact yet tightly-knit fraternity of football clubs. This smaller number lends an air of intimacy, where each match carries a weight of significance and every point earned reverberates throughout the league standings. While the reduced number of clubs may suggest fewer matches, it adds an element of intensified competition as each clash becomes pivotal in shaping the league’s narrative.

Figure 3: Match Schedule Austrian Bundesliga   I   Source: ÖFB


The Austrian Bundesliga, though spirited and captivating, operates on a stage that sometimes falls shy of international recognition. With fewer clubs participating in annual international competitions and fewer international trophies adorning the shelves, the league’s global footprint remains modest. However, this does not diminish the league’s prowess or the talent it nurtures. Instead, it highlights the potential for growth and the endeavor to etch a larger presence on the global football map.


The Austrian Bundesliga, despite its modest dimensions, weaves a footballing tapestry that is rich in authenticity, fervor, and vibrant narratives. While it may not mirror the grandeur of larger leagues, its essence lies in creating an intimate connection between players, clubs, and fans, shaping a footballing experience that is cherished for its distinctness and unwavering passion. The Austrian Bundesliga embodies a unique charm that resonates deeply with those who seek the purity and authenticity of football at its core.

von Dr. Erkut Sogut und Luis Kircher

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