The professional clubs have spoken out against the controversial entry of an investor in the German Football League (DFL). The deal should bring two billion euros.
The three bosses sat there like drowned poodles and, in their frustration as a loser, prophesied a bleak future for German professional football: Chairman of the Supervisory Board Hans-Joachim Watzke fled irony after the billion-euro deal had burst, as were the interim managing directors Axel Hellmann and Oliver Leki hit hard. Only 20 of the 36 professional clubs had voted for the controversial investor entry into the German Football League (DFL) – four votes were missing for the necessary two-thirds majority.
Because the eleven opponents in the posh Frankfurt airport hotel Sheraton also had five abstentions. “The process is over today,” emphasized Watzke. The topic of competitiveness is “obviously not that important for some, otherwise the barrier for the next phase would have been removed. We will receive constructive suggestions from those who did not agree in the next few weeks. I am very, very convinced of that,” led the BVB boss visibly offended and with a good portion of gallows humor.
Hellmann also criticized the opponents directly. In the leagues he found “an absolute consensus that there is a need for investment.” That is why the voting behavior is “amazing”. With “every year that goes by, with every investment that other leagues make, it becomes more and more difficult for us,” said the interim boss. It is now up to those “who were loudly opposed to answering the question of where security and stability for the Bundesliga will come from in the future”.
The scope of the failed billion-dollar deal can already be “guessed”, added Leki, but many clubs will probably only really become aware of it afterwards.
DFL denied leaked details
Despite the secret ballot, the management level pointed the finger mainly in the direction of the second division. During the discussions, “clear differences” between the 1st and 2nd leagues became clear, stressed Watzke. Neither the BVB boss nor Hellmann wanted to know anything about “their own baby” or “personal defeat”, but their displeasure at the failed investor deal was felt every second at the press conference in the Skyloft room.
The plan, which has now failed, looked like this: an investor should have acquired 12.5 percent of the shares in a DFL subsidiary, to which all media rights would have been outsourced, over 20 years. The league hoped for proceeds of two billion euros from the sale. At another meeting in early or mid-July, the selected donor should have been awarded the contract.
But now the skeptics about the club management of 1. FC Köln and FC St. Pauli have prevailed. The critics, which also include numerous fan groups, had denounced the possible influence of a donor and the further cementing of the sporting balance of power. Details of the planned agreement that have recently become known suggested exactly that, but the DFL leadership has now denied some of the leaked details.
DFL: Hellmann and Leki clear the field
It is clear that Hellmann, like Leki, will now vacate his position as interim managing director on June 30th. Watzke, on the other hand, wants to stay.
He had “never run away. However, if at some point the opinion spreads that we should go into unrestrained debt in order to accumulate growth – have fun. I won’t do it then,” emphasized the 63-year-old.
In any case, after May 24, 2023, there will not be much left of the much-vaunted solidarity in German football. The fronts seem finally hardened – the coming months promise a lot of excitement.
Watzke made that clear: “No one should come to us with solidarity issues in the near future.”
DFL: Voices on the burst deal
Hans-Joachim Watzke (DFL Supervisory Board Chairman): “For us, the derivation is that the process is over today. That is democracy. We set the hurdle ourselves. There was a clear majority, but not as we had imagined. That is from today Topic closed. But you don’t have to burn off such smokescreens a week beforehand. It’s so ridiculous that it’s suddenly because it’s not yet clear who will be managing director at some point. That’s total bullshit – and it has Up until a week ago, nobody noticed anything in the committees. This is a completely, completely new discussion.”
Axel Hellmann (DFL co-interim managing director): “One or the other was surprised. A certain scope will only be felt afterwards. I have found an absolute consensus that there is a need for investment. It is amazing the voting behavior and the approach to such a topic. One cannot say that it There is a need and then finish the process.With every year that goes by, with every investment that other leagues make, it’s getting harder and harder for us.Those who have been vocal against it now have to answer the question of where’s the future of security and stability comes for the Bundesliga.”
Oliver Leki (DFL Co-Interim Managing Director): “It is necessary for a project like this to be supported by a large majority. It is difficult to assess why, why, why. This marks the end of the project. It is to some extent possible to guess what the consequences will be for the future, but not yet into the public eye. There is definitely a need for further investment.”
Oke Göttlich (President FC St. Pauli and DFL Executive Committee member): “The result and the controversial debates show that there was still a need for clarification and too many unanswered questions. It is of central importance to enable all clubs to understand the scope of such a deal. The previous approach was lacking for this the time and the space. We first have to develop a clear strategy, together and constructively – and then we can finance it in a targeted manner in order to achieve our clearly defined goals.”
Alexander Wehrle (CEO of VfB Stuttgart): “The sale of shares of future proceeds is an opportunity to make investments in the future. But this must be done in a targeted and strategic manner. It must not become a risk for years to come and it must not lead to the cementing of a distribution logic that is in the best interest of the big traditional clubs and their fans and further widening the economic gap between the clubs instead of closing them. We have made it our mission to get closer to the fans again after the Corona crisis and to push back undesirable developments in the industry. The present application would have sent the wrong signal in this form at this point as well. Therefore we cannot support the proposed path as VfB Stuttgart.”
Klaus Filbry (CEO of Werder Bremen): “We note that the league has not achieved the necessary two-thirds majority to take this step to move the process to the next phase. These are democratic processes that must be accepted. The challenges identified in the process to date remain, and we now have to tackle this in the 36 group and try to solve it.”
Thomas Kessen (speaker of the fan alliance “Unsere Kuge” for SID): “We welcome the verdict, of course. It’s a strong sign. There were too many question marks. Some people apparently deliberately kept information in order to push their own policies through. You certainly won’t find the word ‘solidarity’ in the dictionary the current TV distribution key.”
Jorim Gerrard, financial market expert of the citizens’ movement Finanzwende: “The DFL members have decided against private equity firms getting involved in Bundesliga marketing – and thus in the interests of the fans. That is very good news. The commercialization of football will not be reversed with it, but it will be new dimension of profit orientation is thus successfully prevented. The success also shows that the advance of the financial market logic in all areas of life is not a law of nature – with enough resistance from civil society, even the really big money can be stopped.”
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