New management for the German Football League: After months of searching for a new boss, the DFL has now struck gold in-house. Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel will be promoted and will take over on July 1, as the DFL announced.
One of the most important personal details in German football has been clarified: Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel take over the management of the German Football League (DFL). The DFL announced this on Thursday after meetings of the Supervisory Board and Executive Committee the day before. They will replace Oliver Leki from SC Freiburg and Axel Hellmann from Eintracht Frankfurt, who will only be in charge until the end of the month.
Both “have been doing outstanding work for the DFL for years,” said the head of the supervisory board, Hans-Joachim Watzke, according to the DFL announcement. They “enjoy the highest recognition within the organization and with the clubs. They are familiar with all topics and future projects of the DFL Group, have already been part of the management level and are very well connected.”
Donata Hopfen quickly gave up
Since the end of the era of long-time DFL boss Christian Seifert, the leadership has been turbulent. Successor Donata Hopfen started her job in January 2022 and was given a three-year contract. But already at the beginning of December, the DFL announced the separation after internal disputes.
Since leaving hops at the end of last year, Leki and Hellmann have been running the business. Both were seen as candidates for a permanent solution, but both Leki and Hellmann are making full returns to their Bundesliga clubs. In the meantime, Jan-Christian Dreesen was considered the favorite for the DFL management. However, the 55-year-old decided to succeed Oliver Kahn as CEO of FC Bayern Munich.
Great tasks await the DFL
With Lenz and Merkel, two rather unknown names in the big football business are now taking over the important posts at the DFL. In the league association, however, both officials are incorporated and members of the management. Lenz acts as director for corporate strategy and international affairs, before that he also worked at Uefa. Merkel is currently Director of Audiovisual Rights and TV rights are his responsibility.
A number of major tasks await the new leadership. On the one hand, the 36 professional clubs have to be reunited after the planned investment by investors fell through due to a lack of approval and differences between some clubs became clear, especially between the top international clubs and several second division clubs. On the other hand, the preparation of the tender for the next media contract is currently underway. TV money is the league’s most important source of income.
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