Bayer Leverkusen chief executive Fernando Carro has proclaimed that German soccer should make changes to club ownership rules. Current laws in place, labeled the 50+1 rule, limits foreign investors to how much stake they can own in Bundesliga teams. Instead, German soccer opts for a system in which ensures team officials keep control of their clubs.

This law, of course, has a few exceptions. Leverkusen are currently one of only a handful of Bundesliga clubs with outside ownership. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Bayer founded the team way back in 1904.

“The 50+1 rule nowadays does not make sense,” stated Carro. “We’re competing internationally — we’re not in an isolated world. Imposing something like this via regulation is no longer valid. If 50+1 wasn’t there, owners could put money into other clubs.”

German fans resistant against allowing outside investment

Other top leagues around Europe have welcomed foreign investors with open arms. Not only are more outsiders opting to buy teams in the big divisions, but more and more smaller clubs are also being bought up as well.

In fact, following Florida-based businessman Tom Piatak’s purchase of Carlisle United, 37% of all teams in England’s top four leagues have American ownership.

Nevertheless, a vast majority of German soccer supporters are against opening the Bundesliga to foreign investors. In fact, fans have protested heavily in recent days due to concerns about private investment in the top flight’s marketing revenue. German soccer recently revealed that a single buyer could now purchase media rights packages.

As a result, fans protested during separate games involving Borussia Dortmund and Hamburg on Friday night. The supporter unrest in Germany continued on Saturday as a game between Union Berlin and Wolfsburg was delayed. Fans attending the game threw tennis balls onto the pitch in protest of the upcoming broadcasting change.

Carro believes that the only way to end Bayern Munich’s stranglehold of the Bundesliga title is to allow significant outside investment

Leverkusen exec also claims ending 50+1 rule would help end Bayern’s dominance

Following the protests on Friday, German soccer officials issued a statement on the situation. The organization essentially agreed that fans should certainly voice their opinions, but called on them to not interrupt matches. “Part of what makes the fan culture in German football stadiums special is that fans can express their views on banners and in chants,” read the statement.

“What is not in the spirit of football and fair play, however, is when protests act to the detriment of the teams and sporting competition and matches cannot be properly carried out. This affects millions of fans.”

Nevertheless, money is essentially the issue in the German soccer setup. The Bundesliga currently generates around $215 million annually in foreign broadcasting rights. On the other hand, Spain’s LaLiga brings in nearly $1 billion and the Premier League generates over $2 billion in these media rights deals.

Carro also claims that Bayern Munich‘s dominance is also hurting the league as well. The German giants have collected the last 11 top flight titles. Foreign fans have seemingly lowered interest in the Bundesliga due to the club’s dominance. Leverkusen, however, currently leads the league at the moment.

In turn, the Leverkusen exec claimed that allowing more foreign investors would help other Bundesliga teams. “If you want to have more clubs trying to be at the level of Bayern Munich, getting rid of 50+1 would have much more impact,” proclaimed Carro.

Photo credits: IMAGO / Sven Simon : IMAGO / MIS