DFL Hopes To Generate $2.7 Billion While Leaving 50+1 Untouched
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The governing body of the Bundesliga, and 2. Bundesliga Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) has created a framework, which could open the doors for foreign investors. Kicker, Bild, and Transfermarkt reported on Saturday that the DFL is looking for an investor to buy a 12-15% stake in a yet-to-be-created licensing company.

That new licensing company will then have the ability to sell national and international television rights to a foreign investor over a set time of 25 to 30 years. According to the reports, the DFL hopes to generate around €2.5 billion to €3 billion ($2.7 billion to $3.25 billion) by selling a minority stake in the DFL’s television rights.

Bild reported that seven investors from the United States and Asia are interested in a potential investment. Any investment will be limited to television rights and will not include stakes in the Bundesliga or 2. Bundesliga. Furthermore, any investor will have no influence on any of the 36 member clubs or the league schedule.

The concept was developed by the working group Zukunftsszenarien (future scenarios) under the guidance of Jan-Christian Dreesen (FC Bayern München), Rüdiger Fritsch (SV Darmstadt 98), and DFL board members Axel Hellmann (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Oliver Leki (Sport-Club Freiburg). According to a press release by the DFL, the top two divisions need investment to guarantee growth and development.

By attracting investment in the league, the DFL hopes to increase revenue while leaving 50+1 untouched. Clubs playing in the Bundesliga, 2. Bundesliga, 3. Liga are subject to the so-called 50+1 rule.

The rule requires the parent club to own at least 50% plus one additional share of the football company, ensuring that the club’s members still hold a majority of voting rights. Although the 50+1 rule has guaranteed significant influence by fans in the daily decision-making of their football clubs, the rule has also been considered a substantial obstacle for investors interested in investing in Bundesliga clubs.

With Germany hosting the European Championships in 2024 and many clubs still struggling with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, investment is considered paramount. Although the DFL has not yet considered how to distribute potential investment, the money earned is supposed to be primarily used for infrastructure and youth academies.

The new stadium in Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt buying the Waldstadion from the city has generated in the region of €15-20 million ($16-20 million) for the two clubs kicker reported. The DFL hopes that the money generated from selling television rights will help more clubs to invest in new stadiums or upgrade current facilities to increase their general revenue.

Furthermore, the DFL hopes to generate more television revenue, in general, by bringing in foreign expertise. The Bundesliga currently earns €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion) yearly from national television rights lacking significantly behind the Premier
League, which generates around $1.9 billion in national television rights.

The working group Zukunftsszenarien is set to present its plan to the DFL board early next week. Once approved, the plan will be presented and voted on by members of the 36 clubs that make up Germany’s two top divisions.

Manuel Veth is the host of the Bundesliga Gegenpressing Podcast and the Area Manager USA at Transfermarkt. He has also been published in the Guardian, Newsweek, Howler, Pro Soccer USA, and several other outlets. Follow him on Twitter: @ManuelVeth

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