After the investor deal collapsed: the DFL is looking for a peacemaker – sport

The DFB marketing manager Holger Blask is said in the environment of the national team, he is able to sell his own grandmother if necessary. That may not sound very charming, but it is expressly meant to be pictorial. The slander points to qualities that are fundamental to his profession. When “Bild” reported this week that Blask was the new favorite for the vacant post of managing director at the German Football League, a plausible solution seemed to be in the offing. Finally, as some representatives of the industry remarked with relief. Especially since Holger Blask had worked for the DFL for 14 years before moving to the DFB.

But as soon as the name appeared on the cast list traded in the media, you can also delete it again. The league has no intention of depriving the partner association DFB of one of its most important executives a year before the start of the European Championship in Germany and thereby disrupting the bilateral relations that have been laboriously pacified. A solicitation does not take place.

The search for the new top man in the Frankfurt league headquarters continues. Theoretically, a new top woman could also be considered for the post, but that is not to be expected for the time being. On the one hand, this has to do with Donata Hopfen, who was not able to fill the role intended for her as Christian Seifert’s successor, and on the other hand with the desire that the new boss of the service provider DFL come from league circles and with the local football business on his own experience should be familiar.

The provisional DFL managing directors Oliver Leki and Axel Hellmann, who will be in office until the end of June, would have been suitable as a permanent solution for the vacancy, as would the DFL Executive Committee member Jan-Christian Dreesen. When it came down to it, however, each of the gentlemen preferred the old address: candidate one, Freiburg’s managing director Leki, negotiated a new contract with the sports club; Candidate two, Frankfurt’s board spokesman Hellmann, used the DFL’s offer to – not to his detriment – to clarify hierarchical questions at Eintracht Frankfurt; Number three, Bayern Munich’s outgoing CFO Dreesen, did not even enter the negotiation stage because the foreseeable revolutionary development in the club promised him a different provision at Bayern Munich. The head of the DFL supervisory board, Hans-Joachim Watzke, who is responsible for personnel, wants to present a candidate in July, according to the presidency, who would actually like to take over the job at the umbrella organization.

The question of who should lead the DFL in the future does not only concern the management of the organization that is also to be restructured in other departments. The new CEO would also have to act as a mediator or even peacemaker, because the mood in the plenum of the two leagues is at least critical after the failure of the investor project. There is talk of the impending divorce between the first and second divisions. Some Premier League officials are blaming their second graders for bringing down the plan with the private equity financier.

In other countries, the first and second leagues have long been separated

The confrontation was “a stress test” for the unit, said Wolfsburg’s manager Michael Meeske on Thursday at the SpoBis congress. Another influential first division official whispers that the separation will be inevitable at some point “if the voting behavior is regularly diametrically opposed”, and there is no drama in that either: in other prominent football countries, the upper and lower classes have long gone their own ways, that could change also in Germany: “There is no master plan for the separation, but that can become an issue.”

The still heated political debate is mixed with personal disputes. At the said congress in Düsseldorf, Axel Hellmann, one of the leading proponents of the investor project, publicly criticized the St. Pauli President Oke Göttlich, who is also a member of the DFL Presidium: As a member of the committee, Göttlich raised no objections to the procedure and joined the unanimous vote for the investor deal, but at the subsequent general meeting in front of the 36 club representatives, he then expressed criticism of the business strategy. “Daredevil” he finds this behavior, said Hellmann, formulating diplomatically.

German soccer league: Axel Hellmann, CEO of Eintracht Frankfurt Fußball AG, speaks during the SpoBis Congress.

Axel Hellmann, Spokesman of the Board of Eintracht Frankfurt Fußball AG, speaks during the SpoBis Congress.

(Photo: Roberto Pfeil/dpa)

But the Frankfurt official should know that FC St. Pauli already had an avowedly skeptical attitude to the ambitiously timed procedure. In order to minimize the general lack of knowledge, the Hamburg residents had requested that the decision on pro or contra investors be postponed. On the voting date, Göttlich withdrew the motion, evidently not without pressure from the other members of the Executive Committee.

In fact, even those clubs that voted against the maneuver assure that they support joint investment in professional football. They are concerned with the method of financing and the extent of the proceeds that could be achieved for the modernization of league marketing. Watzke’s statement last week that the issue was settled, so to speak, should not be the last word on the matter, according to the executive floor of a first division club. That is why it is now important to close the vacancy at the DFL as quickly as possible: “We need a new manager there, a new management and a new concept.”


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