Germany’s 50+1 rule: DFL wants to end rule exceptions

To prevent investors from acquiring complete control of more clubs, the German Football League (DFL) seeks to tighten the laws.

The current “50+1” regulation prohibits shareholders from holding a majority of club voting rights.

It implies that rather than a single outside influence or investor, fans have a role in how their clubs are run.

Nevertheless certain clubs are excused therefore the DFL has made a proposal to ensure no further exemptions are given while tightening the current system.

Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim, and Wolfsburg are the clubs that are exempt from the 50+1 rule.

Leverkusen and Wolfsburg are exempt since their investors have a long-standing stake in the teams.

Due to major investor Dietmar Hopp’s significant financial support of Hoffenheim’s grassroots initiatives as well as his backing of both professional and amateur football in Germany, Hoffenheim is exempt from the restriction.

These clubs would keep competing in the top leagues, according to the DFL, but they would need to fulfill certain requirements to maintain their standing.

Hopp claimed last week Hoffenheim will not seek exemption in the future as he would be handing back the majority of his voting rights to the club without any remuneration.

The goal of the 50+1 rule is to give supporters a sense of ownership over their clubs, which previously operated as non-profit entities in Germany under the direction of member groups.

Unlike to other European leagues where clubs can change hands and be taken over by other investors, the Bundesliga’s current regulations prohibit clubs from competing in the competition if commercial investors own more than a 49% stake.

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