The DFL investment vote: Issue over, or a short-term win for fans?

The failure by the DFL to get the two-thirds majority it required to move forward with it’s plans to bring in a multi-billion dollar investment has been greeted with cheers by the fan groups who opposed it. However, the victory might turn out to be a hollow one with a potential split now opening up within the DFL which could ultimately lead to a change nobody really wants.

While the vote yesterday saw twenty clubs vote in favour of the DFL’s proposal, eleven of the 36 clubs voted against with five abstentions. Although the vote was held in secret, it is believed the split was largely a ‘yes’ from the Bundesliga club (minus reportedly Augsburg, Köln and VfB Stuttgart) while the 2.Bundesliga largely vetoed or abstained.

The aim of the proposed plan was for an investor to buy a 12.5% stake over the next 20 years of a new DFL company called DFL MediaCo. This would give €2 billion to the DFL with 45% being given to the clubs for infrastructure and another 40% going to digitisation of the league.

There was huge fan objection for a host of reasons including the danger of outside influences (the investors) changing the fabric of the German game (kick-off times and days for example), while there was a real concern the deal would actually exacerbate the competitiveness of the leagues with Bayern, Dortmund and RB Leipzig in particular (but European qualifiers in general) all receiving huge amounts of cash when they already have top infrastructure.

The fact that so many Bundesliga clubs have seemingly voted in favour of the plan in express opposition to the voice of their fan base is potentially going to lead to some fall out. The fan groups made their opposition very clear and in view of the 50+1 rule, they seem to have just been ignored completely by the boards they voted in. They have the 2.Liga clubs in large part to thank for defeating the vote.

So is the end of the plan? Is it now dead in the water and we can all live happily ever after? Not quite.

Money talks and at the end of the day the 36 clubs are pretty much split between the Bundesliga in favour and the second tier against. It has been suggested that the Bundesliga clubs and the DFL could break away from the 2.Bundesliga (who would have to go under the DFB umbrella) and we would then have a situation akin to the one in England, where the Premier League is run separately from the Championship.  This would not go down well with the fans and it is very unlikely to succeed in light of the huge backlash it would face.

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The whole premise of the DFL’s investment plan was to make German football more competitive, but the proposal actually threatened to just make the rich even richer, which would undermine their original idea. Most people would agree that Bayern’s decade-long dominance is not the ideal solution, but at least this season has shown that they can be dethroned.

The defeat of the vote has ended one chapter, but it is clear that the question of investment and competitiveness will raise it’s head again. German football has a real quandary to solve between retaining it’s unique charm and moving with the times to make sure they are not completely left behind by other top European leagues where money is the king.

About Mathew Burt 1054 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball