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St. Pauli calls for "works clubs" to be excluded from TV deal

A football club that plays in Germany's second division has called for four Bundesliga clubs to be excluded from the current TV revenue deal. The proposal is to be discussed at a meeting of the clubs next week.

The German sports magazine "Kicker" reported on Monday that second division club St. Pauli have written to the German football league (DFL), which centrally markets the television rights of the Bundesliga and the second division, to demand that four clubs be excluded from the deal.

In the letter, dated November 10 and addressed to DFL President Reinhard Rauball and Managing Director Christian Seifert, St. Pauli argue that VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim should be excluded from the deal, because they do not comply with the so-called "50+1" ownership rule. This means that under normal circumstances, over 50 percent of the ownership of a Bundesliga club has to remain in the hands of the membership, preventing any individual or a business from gaining a controlling interest.

The three clubs named are exceptions, with Volkswagen owning 100 percent of VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer AG owning Bayer Leverkusen, and Dietmar Hopp holding a controlling stake in Hoffenheim. Due to their ownership, Wolfsburg and Leverkusen are popularly referred to as "works clubs."

Also named in the St. Pauli letter are Hannover, where Martin Kind is poised to take a controlling stake in 2017 under a rule which allows a business person to gain exclusion from the 50+1 rule after 20 years of significant investment in a club.

St. Pauli's proposal, to be discussed at a DFL meeting in Frankfurt on December 2, is not expected to be approved, but if it does, it would spell the end of central marketing of the Germany's two top divisions.

The four clubs in question have responded with a letter of their own, in which they declared that if the motion were to pass, it would amount to the end of the current "solidarity" regarding television revenues, from which second division clubs profit disproportionately. They also called for the proposal to be declared "inadmissible or unfounded."

The current four-year television deal, which expires in 2017, has a volume of 2.5 billion euros ($2.66 billion). This season, 850 million euros are to be distributed among the 36 professional clubs, with 170 million of that going to clubs in the second division.

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