With the failure of the European Super League conceived by 12 of the largest clubs across Europe, several protests have broken out by fans of England’s big six. Recently, Manchester United’s home fixture against Liverpool was cancelled, as thousands of fans stormed the stadium in protest of their owner Joel Glazer. Chairmen across five of the six clubs have resigned, and the protests continue to come in for more heads to be on the chopping block.
A major point within the current agitations of British football fans is the cry to adopt the Bundesliga’s ownership model. Due to this model (and decent good-person values), Germany’s two biggest clubs – Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, refused to join the failed ESL.
So what is this model? How was it built?
Before 1998, German teams were owned by associations. In most cases, the members of these associations were also fans of the club. Hence, all decisions regarding the club were democratized.
In 1998, the 50+1 rule was introduced to maintain the core values of German football and protect the teams from “money bags”, wanting to make quick profits. The rule states:
“Under German Football League [DFL] rules, football clubs will not be allowed to play in the Bundesliga if commercial investors have more than a 49 per cent stake”
As a result of this rule, fans have a say in the decisions and view the club as theirs. The massive attendance experienced in Bundesliga matches is a testament to this fact. Although some clubs have been successful in requesting exemption from this rule (Hannover, Hoffenheim, etc), a large majority still heed to it.
This ownership system is by no means perfect, but many would argue that it has more advantages than disadvantages. The argument is sure to continue for a long time. Meanwhile, German football trudges on.