German league’s international competitiveness in danger

Oliver Kahn has urged German club football to overthink the decision to reject the involvement of a strategic investor.

The Bayern Munich chairman stressed he sees the German league’s international competitiveness in danger.

Revenue gaps will grow compared to the leading European leagues such as the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga, the 53-year-old complained.

Plans of the DFL, Germany’s league association, to envisage an extra two billion euros coming with a partner benefitting from increasing revenues from media rights failed this week at an extraordinary assembly of the 36 German first and second-tier clubs.

The initiators of the project missed the necessary two-thirds majority as 11 clubs opposed the plan, with five abstentions.

Borussia Dortmund CEO and league association spokesman Hans-Joachim Watzke spoke about an apparent lack of interest when it comes to international competitiveness.

The 63-year-old, along with board members Axel Hellmann (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Oliver Leki (SC Freiburg) said he fears a division in German football.

Hellman said he is expecting future solo runs of leading clubs to come along with further disadvantages for smaller clubs.

The Frankfurt official added to be surprised as “there seemed a general consensus further investments are inevitable.”

Kahn spoke of having had an act of solidarity in mind, while Watzke said bigger clubs were willing to waive significant rights.

The Bayern chairman indicated the initiative might take a second attempt when things are talked over and a successor for departed league association chairman Donata Hopfen is found, as Hellmann and Leki are acting only on an interim basis.

The DFL’s actions were said to primarily strengthen the league’s digitalization, infrastructure and international marketing by selling off 12.5 percent of shares of a newly-founded league enterprise over 20 years.

The Bundesliga has dropped back to fourth position in terms of revenue among Europe’s top-five leagues in recent years.

The league’s international revenues of only 170 million euros appear small compared to leagues in Spain, Italy, and France, who collected between 205 to 900 million euros.

The DFL had planned to use 750 million euros to set up a streaming platform to create greater access to games for international viewers.

Opposing parties such as fan organizations and several smaller clubs are said to fear the growing influence of investors from outside, and that future income might be used up.

Kahn and Watzke claim concerns are unfounded as the entire project is grounded on transparency and every single’s club’s participation. ■

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