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Bundesliga puts hurdle in place for investors

The Bundesliga continues to be under the financial microscope, particularly compared to other leagues. A new regulation, revealed on Thursday by the league's operators, further reduces the chance of major investment.

The organization responsible for the German football Bundesliga, the DFL, has agreed to new regulations making it more difficult for ambitious investors to buy up clubs. Soon, third parties (transnational companies or individuals) will only be allowed to be involved in a maximum of three clubs, and will only be able to own more than 10 percent of shares at just one of those clubs.

The DFL said Thursday that the clampdown on multiple financial involvement in teams was being done to "protect the integrity and credibility of sporting competition."

"No one will be allowed to be involved, directly or indirectly, in more than three corporate enterprises in professional football," read the press release.

Included in the release was an explanation of what were to happen if third parties were to make an approach: "Clubs will be obliged, through appropriate and possible conditions, to work towards the reduction of multiple involvement" it said.

Exemption to the rule

The so-called "Volkswagen clubs" (including Wolfsburg) are exempt from the new rule due to provisions made for the safeguarding of existing standards. Other teams included in the Volkswagen exemption include Bayern Munich (around 10 percent of the club's shares are owned by VW subsidiary, Audi) and current second-division league leaders Ingolstadt, who are also backed by Audi subordinate company, Quattro GmbH.

Also on Thursday, Bundesliga officials said they want to combat the animosity towards controversial second-division side Red Bull Leipzig, while at the same time not outlining any specifics. They also acknowledged that similar anger had previously been directed at SAP-backed Hoffenheim too.

"Every member of the league must unconditionally distance themselves from this. It can't be tolerated if a member's right to exist is denied," said DFL president Reinhard Rauball after Thursday's general assembly. "Solidarity must prevail."

Thursday's announcement follows a multitude of finance-related stories relating to the Bundesliga lately.

Only weeks ago, the lifespan of the so-called "50+1 rule" (where 51 percent of German club ownership is meant to remain in the hands of its owners, avoiding majority, foreign investment) was extended. This week, former Mainz goalkeeper Heinz Müller also won a labor court case against time-limited contracts in football.

Last month, the Premier League announced a 9.5 billion euro TV deal for the 2016-2019 seasons, figures that left the Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert saying: "We cannot plan with those numbers, but we cannot ignore them either."

jh/al (SID, dpa)

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