This Monday, the DFL is making a new attempt at the issue of investor deals. Several clubs have recently positioned themselves. According to a report, a club is calling for the vote to be postponed.
Investor deal yes or no? Before this question, which may be groundbreaking for German football, is decided at the DFL general meeting this Monday, numerous fans once again used the Bundesliga stage to clearly express their opinions.
Supporters showed their rejection on banners at their clubs’ games. “It remains: No to investors in the DFL!” or “Stop DFL investor entry” could be read on banners. It seems clear that the German Football League will no longer convince many fans. And it is highly questionable whether a sufficient number of clubs will be persuaded to sign a billion-dollar investor deal on this third attempt.
Many first and second division teams held back their position for a long time. Only in the past few days have more and more of them made their opinions clear. Those responsible at FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Mönchengladbach and, this time, FC Schalke 04, among others, spoke out in favor of a partnership. According to a report by “Kicker”, Union Berlin President Dirk Zingler, however, called for a postponement of the vote on a possible strategic marketing partnership in a letter to the league association and all other 35 professional clubs. So far, the Köpenickers have been considered supporters of an investor model for professional football, despite the critical attitude of many of their supporters.
The rejection of the partnership sought by the DFL has been clearly audible from the fans in the corners for weeks. They are also in focus because the new DFL management did not want to talk about the topic in public for a long time. In the “Kicker” the two DFL managing directors Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel recently promoted the deal and emphasized what they believed to be increased transparency.
“We have nothing to hide,” said Merkel. Lenz emphasized that the partner would be granted “only limited say in the economic area”. “This is unusual for private equity companies. If a potential partner does not accept the red lines, he is not the right person for us.”
Fan representatives fear distortion of competition
Regardless of the possible partner, the fan interest group “Our Curve” “completely rejects this attempt to become an investor in the DFL,” as Jost Peter, first chairman of the supporters’ association, recently told the German Press Agency. “According to current calculations, the model strengthens the upper third of the DFL leagues, while two thirds of the clubs can only expect minimal improvements. In connection with the already unfair distribution of TV money, small additional income ultimately develops into ever greater distortion of competition.”
Several clubs are in an area of tension. The opinions of their active and loud fans sometimes contradict their own economic convictions. Other clubs have it easier because their fan scene is not as loud and dominant. Hoffenheim’s managing director Denni Strich explained: “We are positive about working with a strategic partner. We communicated this to our fan scene in a constructive exchange.” The management of 1. FC Heidenheim has explained to its fan advisory board that they are “positive” about a strategic marketing partnership under certain conditions.
Some clubs have already made it clear that they will vote against the deal, such as 1. FC Köln. “The DFL has significantly improved its investor proposal. But unfortunately it has still not been sufficiently examined as to whether there are more sensible alternatives to a private equity investor,” said Vice President Eckhard Sauren to the Sportschau: “We still believe it is absolutely necessary “That only the 36 professional clubs decide on the development of German professional football and that no private equity company is at the table.”
Freiburg’s change of opinion
SC Freiburg has even changed its mind and is no longer one of the supporters: The Breisgauers have “changed their assessment” of the new model, as the board of directors and supervisory board wrote. They are convinced “that the significantly reduced investment volume, which will also be spread over several years, should be financed from our own resources (internal financing)”. Spicy: SCF managing director Oliver Leki was still in favor of a partnership when he was interim managing director of the DFL.
Since the failed attempt in the spring, Borussia Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke, in particular, has provided public arguments for joining. “We have to invest in foreign marketing,” said the DFL supervisory board in an interview with “Ruhr Nachrichten”. After failing to secure a two-thirds majority in the spring, he appeared to be in a pretty bad mood and personally offended.
“We don’t have this money freely available. That’s why the approach is to find a strategic partner who will finance our expansion and bring in expertise,” explained the BVB boss. “And in return the partner receives a certain percentage of the marketing revenue.”
DFL relies on a slimmed-down solution
After a first attempt under then DFL boss Christian Seifert and a second one in the spring failed, a kind of light version of the May model is now up for vote. Briefly summarized: A financial investor should pay one billion euros for a percentage share of the TV revenue. According to dpa information, the percentage is a matter of negotiation: the smaller the corresponding offer, the less the league would have to give. Six companies are said to have expressed interest.
The contract should have a maximum term of 20 years and be signed by the start of the 2024/25 season. A large part of the income will flow into the further development of the DFL business model, especially strengthening foreign marketing and preventing piracy. Details were explained to the clubs in two meetings on November 2nd and 6th. Some fan representatives also received explanations at a meeting with the DFL leadership.
Will there be the required two-thirds majority this time? “The mood has changed among a number of clubs that voted against it at the time,” said Watzke. But there was also movement in the other direction, as the head of the DFL supervisory board knows and commented: “I can’t understand it.”
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