Munich The dispute over the influence of investors in the Bundesliga is escalating. The Presidium of the German Football League (DFL) unanimously denied the proposal by entrepreneur Martin Kind to take over the majority of the Bundesliga team Hannover 96 on Wednesday. The owner of a hearing aid chain did not meet the prerequisite for “significantly promoting” the association over at least 20 years.
The DFL now wants the Bundeskartellamt to check whether its so-called “50 + 1 rule” complies with antitrust laws. Child had threatened to go to court if his application was refused. “In the past few months there has been an intense, public debate about the 50 + 1 rule. This step should bring clarity to everyone involved, ”said DFL President Reinhard Rauball.
The rule states that the majority of voting rights in a professional football club must lie with the club behind it. It was last eased in 2011. Since then, patrons who have supported a club on a large scale for at least 20 years have been able to acquire a majority stake.
According to the interpretation of the DFL, they must have invested at least as much money as the largest single sponsor of the club. This allowed SAP founder Dietmar Hopp to take over TSG Hoffenheim in 2014, which had risen from the district league to the Bundesliga with its financial support. There were exceptions for factory clubs such as Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg, which is supported by Volkswagen.
In view of the growing economic superiority of English and Spanish clubs, the DFL had recently thought out loud about opening the Bundesliga to investors. In March, a majority of the clubs in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga refused to weaken the “50 + 1 rule” – contrary to what children had hoped for. The latter then renewed his application for a special permit.
Recently, some Bundesliga clubs had to let important players go because they cannot keep up in the bidding for transfer fees and salaries. That scratches the international success of sport as well as the attractiveness of the Bundesliga. In England and Spain, many clubs are mostly in the hands of financially strong investors or listed on the stock exchange. The soccer Bundesliga has been dominated by FC Bayern Munich for years.