When it comes to official membership, there are no fewer than three Bundesliga representatives among the world's five best supported football clubs, underlining the excellent relationship between Germany's elite sides and their passionate fan bases.

It should come as no surprise to see Bayern Munich leading the way. Just as they are currently bestriding the Bundesliga like a Colossus - with an insolent lead of 19 points over second-placed Borussia Dortmund - the record champions are also head and shoulders above the rest in terms of official support, with a total of 290,000 members. That's over 100,000 more than the best of the rest, Portuguese champions Benfica.

© DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Another Portuguese outfit - Sporting - complete the podium, just ahead of Revierderby rivals Dortmund and Schalke. Given the animated history between the two Ruhr Valley neighbours, it is perhaps fitting that they are only separated by the tightest of margins in fourth and fifth, with BVB boasting around 4,000 more Mitglieder - or official members - than the Royal Blues.

"German football fans traditionally have close ties with their clubs," Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said in 2016. "And if they get the feeling that they are no longer being regarded as supporters but as customers, we'll have a problem."

Indeed, the presence of three German clubs in the top five is inextricably linked to the country's unique fan culture, which - underpinned by the all-important 50+1 ownership rule - is designed to keep entertainment values high and ticket prices low.

Dortmund and Bayern are also two of the top three clubs in Europe when it comes to average attendance, with the Signal Iduna Park welcoming over 80,000 supporters on a weekly basis, and the Allianz Arena not far behind with 75,000.

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