After intense fan backlash, German soccer officials are ready to pull the plug on finding a new marketing partner. It was previously revealed that the German Football League (DFL) would explore selling a piece of their TV and marketing rights. The DFL essentially controls the operating business for the Bundesliga and second-tiered 2. Bundesliga.

Officials with the DFL previously wanted to sell 8% of these media rights as a private equity investment. Club representatives from the top two German leagues voted on the potential move earlier this fall. The vote eventually passed by a single vote.

If the deal went through, the DFL would have gained $1 billion from the deal. Around $650 million of this fee would go to video content, streaming and overseas marketing. The remaining money would then have been distributed directly to the German clubs.

DFL spokesperson says widespread protests forced decision

Nevertheless, the DFL has now announced that they will not pursue the media deal.

“In view of current developments, a successful continuation of the process no longer seems possible,” stated Hans-Joachim Watzke, a spokesman for the organization.

“Even if there is a large majority in favor of the entrepreneurial necessity of the strategic partnership, German professional football is in the midst of a crucial test, which is causing major disputes not only within the league association between the clubs, but in some cases also within the clubs between professionals, coaches, club officials, supervisory bodies, members’ associations and fan communities, which are increasingly jeopardizing match operations, specific match schedules and thus the integrity of the competition.”

“In view of the circumstances in the league association with its 36 member clubs, the viability of a successful contract conclusion in terms of financing the 36 clubs can no longer be guaranteed.”

“The executive committee has therefore unanimously come to the conclusion that, on the basis of the resolution of December 11th, 2023, it will exercise its discretion not to continue the process and not to bring it to a conclusion. The DFL executive committee and the management will be inviting clubs to talks in the coming weeks to jointly discuss the implications of the process.”

Failed move shows that fan protests work to stop sale of Bundesliga media rights

Last week, United States investment company Blackstone pulled out of the negotiations with the DFL. The move left only one other investment group remaining in talks for the Bundesliga media rights. Blackstone’s decision to end their talks surrounded the massive fan protests regarding the aforementioned proposal.

Several Bundesliga matches suffered issues in recent weeks due to protests from inside stadiums. The recent marquee matchup between league leaders Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich had an eight-minute delay. Fans inside Leverkusen’s home arena pelted the pitch with candy in response to the potential investment deal.

Many of these protests involved throwing things onto the field. A match involving Hannover 96 was different. The 2. Bundesliga club’s fixture against Hamburg faced a delay after fans put a bike lock on the goal. Officials failed to figure out the lock’s combination. Consequently, stadium officials used an angle grinder to remove it.

The widespread fan protests in Germany somewhat echoed similar moves regarding the European Super League (ESL). Fans from across Europe vehemently opposed the formation of the proposed breakaway league. As a result, clubs quickly backed out of the deal to depart from their current setup. In both cases, fans helped make a positive influence on their beloved teams.