“Game, Set & Victory!”: German football fans celebrate the DFL shelving private investment plans

Fans across Germany were in a jubilant mood today as they celebrated the Deutsche Football League (DFL) shelving plans for private investment in league marketing revenue.

Protests had been sparked by clubs from the top two tiers of German football voting in favour of the DFL exploring a “strategic partnership” with private equity firm CVC which would have boosted broadcast rights and club revenue.

However, fans felt that the plans risked the over-commercialisation of German football and pursued creative means of voicing their opposition.

Protests included the use of tennis balls, bicycle locks and flares to stop games but as the protests were starting to escalate, the DFL backed down.

In a short statement, on Wednesday the DFL said proposals were untenable:

“Given current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer appears possible,” said Hans-Joachim Watzke, DFL supervisory board chairman and Borussia Dortmund CEO.

“Even though there is a large majority in favour of the economic necessity of a strategic partnership, German professional football is facing an acid test with divisions not only between clubs within the league but also inside the clubs themselves between players, coaches, officials, boards members and fan groups.”

Today, fans across the country drank in their success.

At Union Berlin, banners exclaimed, “Game, set and victory!”

FC Heidenheim fans displayed various flags and signs expressing support for 50+1 and fan ownership.

Similar sentiments were expressed across the country as fans united in celebration of their victory.

In a statement released earlier, the nationwide alliance of Ultras stated:

“The 21st February 2024 will live long in the memory of many active football supporters: the German Football League (DFL) executive board announced that the process to enter into a partnership with an investor was to be discontinued.

Almost a year after we first began dealing with this topic, the plans appear to have been stopped: a development we welcome and which is thanks to the meticulous work of organised fans.

It is appropriate to thank everyone who has contributed to making this result possible over the past weeks and months.

Football fans have shown how strong we are together.

However, this period has also proved that investor plans can quickly pick up again. It has become clear that German football still has to deal with many other topics, such as maintenance of the 50+1 rule.

For the good of German football, we need to remain alert and ready.”

With the Bundesliga falling behind the Premier League and other competitors in the international market and revenue, fans remain wary that plans for private investment are unlikely to go away but the fans have crossed their line in the sand:

No private investment.

At Union Berlin, fans had a clear message for the DFL about future proposals,

“But at the next serve, we will be ready!”

It is back to the drawing board for DFL because the fans will come back swinging.

GGFN | Oscar O’Mara

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