German Football League: DFL stops investing after fan protests

After the violent fan protests of the past few weeks, the German Football League (DFL) has canceled the controversial search for an investor. The DFL Presidium has unanimously decided not to continue the process of concluding a marketing partnership, the DFL announced. “A successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible in view of current developments,” said DFL Presidium spokesman Hans-Joachim Watzke.

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Fans in the Bundesliga stadiums have been protesting against the plans for weeks and have regularly caused longer interruptions in the game by throwing tennis balls, among other things. The DFL’s plans envisaged allowing an investor to take a percentage share of the proceeds from TV licenses from the German professional leagues. An agreement should bring the DFL one billion euros.

Many fans and clubs feared that the entry of an investor would commercialize the business – to the detriment of fan interests. The two-thirds majority required to begin negotiations among the 36 clubs in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga was only very narrowly achieved.

Possible violation of the 50+1 rule

There is a large majority in favor of the entrepreneurial necessity of the strategic partnership, said Watzke. German professional football is facing a breaking point. This causes disputes between and within the clubs, which in turn endangers gaming operations “and thus the integrity of the competition”.

Due to the controversial role of Hanover managing director Kind, there is suspicion that the vote could have violated the 50+1 rule. The rule limits the influence of external donors on clubs in the first and second divisions.

Hanover’s club management had instructed Kind to vote against the investor’s entry. However, the voting results and the public confessions of those opposing the proposal suggest that the 79-year-old voted yes and thus helped the DFL plan gain the necessary majority. Child himself does not comment on his vote.

Watzke: There is a lack of broad acceptance of the vote

It should not be overlooked that this vote lacks broad acceptance due to the events surrounding Hannover 96, said Watzke. “Given the great asset we hold in our hands with the 50+1 rule, ignoring this should not be our approach,” said the spokesman. The DFL presidium is unanimous in its support of the 50+1 rule, he assured. Any new vote would raise further legal questions about the assessment of the decision made in December. “Avoiding this and returning to orderly game operations must be the DFL’s primary goal,” said Watzke.

In the coming weeks, the presidium and management wanted to invite people to “club discussions in order to discuss conclusions from the process together,” said the spokesman.

Citizens’ movement welcomes failed deal

The citizens’ movement Finanzwende eV spoke of good news for all football fans in this regard. The movement had launched a petition called Stop CVC Deal before the DLF’s announcement. No financial investors in the DFL! started.

“CVC’s entry into Bundesliga marketing would have meant a new dimension in football’s profit orientation,” said managing director Daniel Mittler in a statement. “The decision shows that the penetration of financial market logic into all areas of life is not a law of nature. Public pressure from civil society can also stop big money. For us, this is a cause for celebration.” The issue of financial investors in Bundesliga marketing must now be finally off the table.

After the violent fan protests of the past few weeks, the German Football League (DFL) has canceled the controversial search for an investor. The DFL Presidium has unanimously decided not to continue the process of concluding a marketing partnership, the DFL announced. “A successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible in view of current developments,” said DFL Presidium spokesman Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Fans in the Bundesliga stadiums have been protesting against the plans for weeks and have regularly caused longer interruptions in the game by throwing tennis balls, among other things. The DFL’s plans envisaged allowing an investor to take a percentage share of the proceeds from TV licenses from the German professional leagues. An agreement should bring the DFL one billion euros.

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