What is 50 50 50 1

Adaptation of the 50 + 1 rule Loud silence in the Bundesliga

It is considered the last stop sign of total commercialization in football: the 50 + 1 rule. It regulates that the majority of the shares of an association should always be in the hands of the members. This limits the influence of investors. A dispute has been raging for years, which has picked up speed due to the revealed financial problems of the clubs during the corona pandemic.

League split on investor issues

On the one hand, some Bundesliga clubs like FC Bayern Munich want to abolish the rule entirely in order to allow investors to join:

"I am of the opinion that it should be left to the clubs themselves, if they want to give up shares, how many shares they can give up."

This is what Bavaria President Herbert Hainer said in an interview with ZDF in May.

"I'll give you an example: We at Bayern Munich have stipulated in the statutes that we can give up a maximum of 30 percent. That means: The rule that we have imposed on ourselves is even stricter than 50plus1. I think that can you give into the personal responsibility of the individual clubs! "

Fans fight to keep the 50plus1 rule

On the other hand, the fans fight to keep the rule in order to preserve their right to codetermination. For example, the “Our Football” fan initiative recently presented a policy paper for German football. This includes the demand for more basics and more sustainable business practices, which for fans unequivocally includes the 50plus1 rule. More than 2,500 fan clubs across Germany have joined. Manuel Gaber, one of the initiators, has been fighting for years to keep the rule:

"Because it protects us from clubs becoming the pawns of individuals, of investors. Instead, the clubs always belong to the members thanks to the 50 + 1 rule. At the same time, from our point of view, it is also an important instrument for ensuring the integrity of the competition. And the question is actually: do we have professional football in Germany because we see that it is a social role model, that it also wants to give something back to society, or do we only have it as a pure branch of the economy - and we want that as a Prevent fans. "

Survey of clubs on reform of 50 + 1

The last time there was intense debate was in 2018 about the rule. At that time, the 36 member clubs of the DFL had initially agreed to keep it. However, there is also a fundamental debate about how the rule should be designed in the future.

To this end, the DFL carried out a member survey of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs last year. The questionnaire specially developed for this purpose is available to Deutschlandfunk. It says, among other things:

"Does your club plan to sell shares in the next two years?" And further: "What specific adjustments, additions, and further developments of the 50 + 1 rule does your club propose to improve the legal certainty of the 50 + 1 rule?"

Irritation especially at the smaller clubs

The DFL does not comment on the result of this survey. However, according to media reports, half of the clubs did not take part in the survey at all because the questionnaire was perceived as tendentious. This is publicly known, for example, from 1. FSV Mainz 05, Arminia Bielefeld, SC Paderborn and FC St. Pauli.

"This questionnaire campaign initiated by the DFL at the time irritated many. Even us, I was still responsible for FC St. Pauli at the time," said the then managing director of FC St. Pauli and former DFL manager Andreas Rettig recently in the WDR show "sport inside". Rettig continued:

"Very few people understood that, and they had given them a direction in their questions that not everyone really liked. So I think this action was not a good one!"

Professional clubs respond evasively to inquiries

That is why Deutschlandfunk asked all of the 36 DFL member clubs at the time whether they had even completed the questionnaire and what importance they attached to this campaign.

The result: only slightly more than half of the clubs reported back: 21 out of 36. Of these, only one club confirmed that it had completed the DFL questionnaire. It is the second division 1. FC Heidenheim, who writes:

"Yes, we filled out the questionnaire because we think it makes sense for every club to get involved in this matter."

All other associations either do not answer Deutschlandfunk at all or almost verbatim that they will not comment on an "internal opinion process". And that although we did not ask for specific results, but only whether the clubs took part in this member survey or not.

Curious: Even Mainz 05, one of the clubs that had rejected the campaign at the time, no longer wants to comment and no longer answers questions about the rejection at the time.

Fan representatives are calling for more transparency

For fan representatives like Manuel Gaber from "Our Football" this approach is incomprehensible. Above all, he would like more transparency from the DFL - not only on this issue:

"I think we are in the middle of a fundamental debate about where should football develop? The fans have also expressed their displeasure over the past few months with the" Our football "campaign, which over half a million people have joined. And very much made it clear that they need fundamental reforms. And from my point of view it would be fatal if the fans were not taken into account here, and the German Football League says we will continue as before. "

Manuel Gaber and five other fan representatives belong to the "Professional Football Taskforce" initiated by the DFL. The talks should also be about the 50 + 1 rule. To what extent the results of the DFL member survey will be taken into account remains open.