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DFL Executive Committee will not Continue Partner Process.

Roger Hampel


The Executive Committee of the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) convened in an extraordinary meeting in Frankfurt on February 21, 2024, reaching a unanimous decision to discontinue the process of entering into a strategic marketing partnership. This decision marks a pivotal moment, reflecting the intricate balance between financial strategies and the traditional values upheld within the sport.

A Business Necessity Meets Internal Resistance

Hans-Joachim Watzke, the speaker of the DFL Executive Committee, articulated the complexities that led to this resolution. Despite recognizing the business necessity of a strategic partnership, the process unveiled a significant schism not just within the Ligaverband association between clubs but also permeated the internal dynamics of the clubs themselves. This discord spanned across the spectrum of football's stakeholders, including professional players, coaches, club officials, supervisory bodies, member assemblies, and notably, fan communities. The ensuing conflict threatened the very fabric of match operations, with potential repercussions on the integrity of the competition itself.

The Integrity of the Competition at Stake

The heart of the matter lies in the increasing conflict that jeopardizes the smooth execution of matches and, by extension, the competition's integrity. With the viability of a financially successful contract for the 36 clubs under the DFL becoming uncertain, the Executive Committee found itself at a crossroads. Watzke underscored that the potential for securing broad acceptance for the strategic partnership was compromised, casting a shadow over the financing assurances needed by the clubs.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

The Executive Committee's deliberation also took into account the legal landscape, particularly the ramifications of a vote conducted on December 11, 2023. This vote, which had initially granted the Executive Committee the mandate to pursue the agreement, was deemed legally valid. However, the lack of broad acceptance, especially in light of the situation with Hannover 96, posed significant legal and regulatory challenges. The DFL's commitment to the 50+1 rule, a cornerstone of German football governance ensuring clubs remain primarily in control of their voting members, stood as a testament to the league's values, further complicating the decision-making process.

Moving Forward: A Call for Dialogue

In response to these challenges, the DFL Executive Committee has opted for prudence, deciding against proceeding with the strategic partnership in its current form. This decision, rooted in the desire to preserve the integrity of the sport and uphold its foundational principles, sets the stage for a series of dialogues. The DFL and its management intend to engage with the clubs in the coming weeks to navigate the implications of this halted process, aiming to forge a path forward that respects the diverse interests and values of the German football ecosystem.


The DFL's decision to halt the strategic marketing partnership process underscores the complex interplay between financial imperatives and the traditional ethos of football. As the league embarks on a period of reflection and dialogue, the outcome of these discussions will undoubtedly shape the future trajectory of German professional football, balancing the pursuit of growth with the preservation of its cherished values.

Source: DFL


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