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Fan protests successful: DFL withdraws plans for investor entry

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Fan protests successful: DFL withdraws plans for investor entry

Banner in the south curve in Signa Iduna Park: “Watzke & investors hand in hand drive the league against the wall” picture alliance / BEAUTIFUL SPORTS | BEAUTIFUL SPORTS/Wunderl

The German Football League wanted to bring an additional billion euros into the club’s coffers with the entry of an investor. But after ongoing fan and club protests, the DFL has now canceled the deal.

DFL boss Watzke explained the move on Wednesday saying that there was no longer any acceptance for such a plan.

The DFL now wants to return to orderly game operations.

1-0 for the fans: The German Football League (DFL) is withdrawing its plans for investor entry after massive protests from fans and clubs. DFL President Hans-Joachim Watzke announced this on Wednesday.

On Linkedin Watzke explained: “A successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible given current developments. Even if there is a large majority in favor of the entrepreneurial necessity of the strategic partnership: German professional football is in the middle of a test that is taking place not only within the league association between the clubs, but also partly within the clubs between professionals, coaches, club managers, supervisory bodies, general meetings and so on Fan communities cause major disputes that endanger the game operations, specific game processes and thus the integrity of the competition with increasing vehemence.“

DFL was hoping for a billion-dollar deal

The viability of a successful conclusion of a contract in terms of financing the 36 clubs can no longer be guaranteed given the circumstances in the league association with its 36 member clubs, Watzke continued.

The DFL boss further explains that any further votes on the question of an investor deal would not solve the problem. Watzke: “The starting point is the vote on December 11, 2023, which resulted in a 2/3 majority for a final mandate from the Presidium. This vote is viewed as legally valid within the executive committee and according to the assessment of the lawyers. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that this vote lacks broad acceptance due to the events surrounding Hannover 96.“

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Trouble over the role of Hanover President

Background: The DFL wanted to collect one billion euros from a financial investor for a percentage share of the TV revenue. The only remaining applicant was the company CVC, with which the DFL leadership recently held discussions. The US company Blackstone had previously withdrawn from the negotiations; before that, the number of applicants had been gradually reduced.

When the 36 professional clubs voted on the deal in December last year, the necessary two-thirds majority was only barely achieved. Due to the controversial role of Hanover managing director Kind, there is a 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.

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 leadership had instructed Kind to vote against the investor’s entry. However, the result of the vote and the public confessions of opponents 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

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