DFL vote: Bundesliga clubs vote for investor entry

Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel, the two managing directors of the German Football League (DFL), certainly did not seem exuberant when they achieved this extremely narrow victory. “From our perspective, today’s vote is a good sign within the league association, a sign that we as the DFL will continue to develop the first and second Bundesliga with the clubs,” said Lenz after an intensive meeting.

At the end of a controversial debate, the 36 clubs in the first and second Bundesliga voted on Monday with the necessary two-thirds majority to enter into a “strategic marketing partnership” with a company from the private equity industry. 24 clubs voted in favor, ten were against and two abstained. A single additional dissenting vote would have caused the project to fail.

As long as nothing goes wrong in the further process, in which concrete negotiations with the interested donors (Advent, Blackstone, CVC, EQT) are now pending, eight percent of a subsidiary that has yet to be founded will be sold for around one billion euros, into which the national and… international marketing rights are outsourced.

“With very clear red lines”

In concrete terms, this means: The new partner will receive eight percent of the income from the central marketing of the federal leagues every season for a limited period of 20 years. Lenz emphasized that it was “a revenue share with very clear red lines,” and the investor’s rights to have a say were therefore strictly limited.

According to DFL officials, this groundbreaking decision is also important in order to increase the market value of the TV rights, which will be re-tendered in the spring. Part of the money should flow into improving the national media product, i.e. the quality of the reporting that can currently be seen and heard on Sky, DAZN, ARD and ZDF.

The decision is “a signal to these media companies that German football is ready to invest comprehensively in a successful future,” said Merkel. This is “in particular about the further development of the media product centrally marketed by the DFL”.

In addition, the strategic partner is likely to have a great interest in the rights being sold as expensively as possible and in supporting the tender with its own capacities. Ultimately, the private equity company will receive eight percent of this income from the coming season. The fact that twelve clubs, and therefore exactly a third of the DFL shareholders, did not agree also shows how great the skepticism is, although things were much more peaceful in the run-up to the vote than around the decision in the spring, which ended with a negative vote was.

“Our Curve” criticizes “Rat Race”

Even critical clubs like 1. FC Köln had praised the improved approach of the new DFL managing directors Lenz and Merkel: “We recognize that the new process is being presented with significantly greater transparency and welcome the fact that it now largely starts with a direct distribution the clubs have distanced themselves,” said Eckhard Sauren, the vice president of the traditional Rhenish club in the run-up to the general meeting. However, the meeting was not entirely without mistrust, which can be seen in the voting procedure.

Concerned that if voting were carried out electronically it would be possible to trace who voted and how, the clubs voted using handouts and ballot boxes. The voting behavior would be particularly interesting in the case of officials such as Alexander Jobst (Düsseldorf) or Martin Kind (Hannover), who are avowed supporters of the project but have received the (non-binding) order to vote “no” at their clubs’ general meetings .

Daniel Theweleit Published/Updated: , Recommendations: 3 Daniel Theweleit, Leverkusen Published/Updated: Recommendations: 6 A comment from Christopher Meltzer Published/Updated: Recommendations: 7 Daniel Theweleit, Cologne Published/Updated: ,

Whether the time of protests and resistance is now over remains unclear, and not just because of questions like these. The fan association “Our Curve” had reiterated the position of the organized fans the morning before the meeting. “From a fan’s point of view, there is no need for further international marketing – not even as a response to falling revenues. “The rat race is not the answer in terms of football, either nationally or internationally,” the organization said

The majority of those responsible for the club obviously see things differently, because the management in the transfer market senses what it means to lose out in the pursuit of the best players. However, it remains to be seen whether the partnership and the planned investments will actually lead to the hoped-for growth.


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