DFL is looking for an investor for a billion-dollar deal: hot debate about six applicants

Soccer Bundesliga
Hot debate and six applicants: DFL is looking for an investor for a billion dollar deal

Leverkusen’s Amine Adli (l.) fights for the ball with Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs: Will the warm rain of money soon come for the German Bundesliga clubs?

© Sascha Scheuermann / AFP

The DFL wants to bring in fresh money for the German football clubs through an investor. But the plan is controversial. Not all clubs support the plan and fans are skeptical.

The debate about an investor joining the German Football League and the search for a suitable candidate are heating up. Interested parties had to have submitted their offers to the DFL by the beginning of the week at the latest. The star answers the most important questions about the possible billion dollar deal.

What does the DFL expect from an investor?

First of all, a lot of money. The deal is expected to bring in around two to three billion euros. In particular, the overall marketing of the Bundesliga, primarily abroad, is to be strengthened with the fresh capital. Germany lags far behind the competition from England, Spain and Italy. A fixed amount is also earmarked to finance local infrastructure projects for the 36 first and second division clubs. In addition, the clubs should receive a sum that has not yet been determined at their free disposal.

How is the deal supposed to go?

First, a two-thirds majority – i.e. at least 24 of the 36 professional clubs – must vote for it. With a corresponding vote, the national and international media rights would be outsourced to a subsidiary called “DFL MediaCo GmbH & Co. KGaA” in the next step. The investor can then acquire at least 12.5 percent of the new company for a term of 20 to 30 years.

Could the strategic partner also influence the design of the game schedule or even club politics in the future?

No – says the DFL. The sovereignty of the clubs remains untouched. However, critics assume that an investor will not completely do without co-determination. This would be conceivable via mandates in the supervisory bodies of the DFL.

Who are the candidates?

There are six applicants: Advent, Blackstone, Bridgepoint, CVC, EQT, KKR. The sextet are all private equity firms. This means that the capital provided cannot be traded on the stock exchange. Some of the companies already have experience in the football business. CVC has already acquired stakes in Spain’s La Liga and French Ligue 1 and has owned Formula 1 for a long time. KKR was a shareholder in Hertha BSC between 2014 and 2019.

How is the further procedure?

First, the DFL management will review the offers. The best offers will then be presented to the clubs at an extraordinary general meeting in mid-May. Concrete negotiations could then take place. The DFL leadership, headed by the head of the supervisory board, Hans-Joachim Watzke, who is one of the supporters, hopes that the process will be completed by June 30th.

How is the mood in the clubs?

split. Some reject investor entry, others are in favor and a third camp is keeping a low profile and waiting. The critics warn against accessing future earnings that clubs will lack in 10 to 20 years. The proponents see the deal as an opportunity to compete more internationally with clubs from England, Spain and Italy.

What do the fans say about the plans?

In the past few weeks, many supporters at Bundesliga games have made it clear that they don’t believe in a possible entry by an investor. “In no other sector of the economy is money burned as quickly as in professional football. Briefly heating up the money-burning machine and giving up future income for it could become an existential threat to the future of the Bundesliga as a top European league,” warned the fan associations of FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund recently in a joint statement.

tis / Eric Dobias

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