DFL: The Bundesliga’s investor deal has fallen through

DFL: The Bundesliga’s investor deal has fallen through

The planned investor deal in the Bundesliga is over – that is the result of an extraordinary meeting of the German Football League in Frankfurt. Parts of the fan scene had been protesting for weeks.

With the abrupt cancellation of the billion-dollar deal with an investor, the German Football League has bowed to the fans in a test of strength. The DFL ended negotiations on Wednesday about the entry of a strategic partner to restore peace in the stadiums. The executive board of the umbrella organization of the 36 professional clubs decided unanimously in Frankfurt am Main not to continue talks with the financial investor CVC – and after the hoped-for deal fell through, it now has to find other sources of money in order to implement its modernization plans.

“Now I just had the feeling that there was no longer a majority. And then you no longer need to vote if you have the feeling. In any case, this process is over,” said DFL supervisory board chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke to ARD and the TV channel Sky.

Some clubs had recently suggested further votes. According to Watzke, general support crumbled in the 48 hours before the meeting. He then suggested that the Presidium end the negotiations.

Protests against DFL plans

There had previously been weeks of protests in the 1st and 2nd leagues with tennis balls, remote-controlled cars and even small airplanes, and there was a threat of game cancellations. Ultimately, only CVC remained in the controversial bidding competition.

“German professional football is in the midst of a test,” admitted Watzke, who is managing director of Borussia Dortmund, in a DFL statement. He also justified the executive committee’s decision by saying that sporting competition had suffered due to the frequent interruptions of the games.

VfB Stuttgart welcomed “this understandable decision by the DFL executive committee, which allows all of us who love football to come together again.” Managing director Thomas Herrich of second division club Hertha BSC called the step the right decision given the overall situation. What will now be crucial is how the DFL and its clubs will align themselves in the future and what long-term objectives will be agreed upon that can sustainably strengthen the leagues. Watzke announced discussions about this.

The Faszination Fankurve alliance, on the other hand, stated that the protests were now crowned with success. The citizens’ movement Finanzwende, which recently started a petition, spoke of good news for all football fans. “Public pressure from civil society can also stop big money. For us, this is a reason to be happy,” said managing director Daniel Mittler in a statement. The recent exit of the US company Blackstone was celebrated as a success by fans who are against an investor.

Possible violation of 50+1 rule

The DFL wanted to collect one billion euros from a financial investor for a percentage share of the TV revenue; such a model should no longer exist. “This process has been shelved. We have to start from scratch,” said Watzke, also with a view to better marketing the league abroad.

A first attempt to attract an investor last year did not find the required majority among the clubs. In December, the necessary two-thirds majority was only just achieved. Due to the controversial role of Hanover managing director Martin 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 1st and 2nd leagues.

Watzke now stated that it should not be overlooked that this vote lacked broad acceptance due to the events surrounding Hannover 96. “Given the great asset we hold in our hands with the 50+1 rule, ignoring this should not be our approach. The DFL Presidium is unanimous in its support of the 50+1 rule.”

Any new vote would raise further legal questions about the assessment of the decision made in December, Watzke added. “Avoiding this and returning to orderly game operations must be the DFL’s primary goal.”

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.

Note: This message has been updated several times.

Source: Stern

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