FRANKFURT: German club ownership regulations are back on the agenda amid further debate about the positive and negative effects of the so-called “50-plus-one” rule writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Christian Seifert, chief executive of the DFL, said that the league’s board had begun a consultation about altering the rule, ahead of clubs voting on the changes in the next month.
He explained: “It will be a general debate without reference to commissions. The clubs will form their opinions and then report back. We will also consult the competitions’ office, where appropriate, and the European Commission.
“We at least to figure out if, between keeping the market as it is or opening it up completely, there is a way in between.
“In the coming years, the Bundesliga alone will approach the €4bn mark. Of course, the English have more money. But we have to make the best of our possibilities.”
The Bundesliga is the world’s second-highest revenue-generating league in the world but only Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke ranked in the Deloitte list of Europe’s 20 richest clubs.
Seifert said clubs would discuss compromises to the rule, such as the right to block changes relating to ‘football culture’ by club members, team colours or stadium moves.
He also warned that a failure to reform could lead to legal challenges from minority investors impatient at their lack of control.
A two-thirds majority – 24 of the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two leagues – is needed to effect a rule change.
The rule bars major outside investors from taking over clubs by preventing commercial entities from owning more than 49pc of German clubs, with the rest held by club members.
It is perceived to have contributed to a fan-focused culture which helps maintain low ticket prices and high matchday attendances.
Exceptions have been granted for Bayer Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg – who are owned by pharmaceuticals firm Bayer and carmaker VW respectively and were founded as works teams within those companies – and for Hoffenheim, whose billionaire majority owner Dietmar Hopp, the co-founder of SAP, has held an interest in the club for more than 20 years.
The Bundesliga’s financial report for 2016-17 stated that the 36 clubs had generated a record €4.01bn in revenue, a 4.2pc increase on the previous year and the first time the €4bn ceiling had been surpassed.
This was the 13th consecutive revenue record posted by the DFL.
The Bundesliga alone generated €3.37bn, almost three times the total revenue in 2003-04.
Only Hertha Berlin and Hamburg made a loss last season.