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Challenge tests Germany’s ’50+1′ club ownership rule


Berlin (AFP) – There are calls in Germany to end the “50+1” rule, which prevents investors taking control of Bundesliga clubs, after it was challenged by Hanover chairman Martin Kind.

According to German Football League (DFL) rules each club in Germany’s top two tiers must retain a majority of voting shares which allows club  members to veto decisions by outside investors.

However, some Bundesliga clubs want the rule abolished to encourage investment – which could help break Bayern Munich’s monopoly on the German League as they currently sit 18-points clear and are set for a sixth straight title.

“We have to make changes together in the Bundesliga and not leave that to courts – we have to strengthen the direct responsibility of the clubs,” said Kind on Tuesday.

“I’m glad that all Bundesliga clubs are now involved in this process.”

Kind had applied for Hanover 96 to join the three clubs exempt from the ’50+1′ rule, Hoffenheim, because their backer has been involved for 20 years or more, and Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, which were founded as company teams.

Kind has supported Hanover since 1997, but withdrew his challenge on Monday after the DFL said they are considering changes.

“If the 50 + 1 rule is to be redesigned, we would no longer need a waiver – that’s the background,” explained Kind.

The DFL says there is a need to discuss the rule “to open new investment opportunities”, but any changes need a two-thirds majority agreement at a meeting of the 36 clubs in Germany’s top two leagues.

According to German daily Bild, 12 of the top 18 clubs want the rules relaxed — especially those who could realistically challenge Bayern.

“The clubs need new sources of funding for the growing gap at the top of European football,” said Michael Schade, the CEO of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Christian Heidel, sports director of Schalke, who are fifth, agrees it is time to modernise the ruling.

“We have to consider together whether the 50+1 rule is up-to-date, or if there are opportunities for improvement,” he said.

“What do the clubs want?

“We will not find a solution that will make everyone 100 percent happy, but I think it’s good to reconsider ’50+1′.

“If we don’t do that, I am in favour of completely abolishing it.”

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