What the football fans recently witnessed, and to be more precise – got infuriated by – was how cheekily the football owners of a few high-profile clubs decided to throw the “legacy” fans under the bus. Enough has already been said and written about these owners’ tactics and intentions.
There is a school of thought prevailing that the same faction of rebel clubs will come back with another charge which might be stronger than before.
How do the Football Associations and the fans together stop this from happening again? What can the stakeholders of English Football come up with to quash such scathing attacks in future?
Lot of talks among the fans of adopting and imbibing the German “50+1” policy. A policy which is credited for German clubs not being part of the rebel clubs joining the Super League.
What is “50+1” rule?
It simply means that the German clubs – and, by extension, the fans – hold a majority of their own voting rights. In other words, fans own 51% of a particular club. As per German Football League rules, football clubs will not be allowed to play in the Bundesliga if commercial investors own > 49% stake.
How does this help?
- Private Investors cannot take over clubs and potentially push through measures that prioritise profit above fans’ wishes.
- It provides protection against reckless owners and ensures the democratic fabric of German clubs.
“50+1” rule was introduced in 1998 until when, private ownership of any kind was prohibited. German teams before 1998 were not-for-profit organisations run by members’ associations.
50+1 helps explain why debts and wages are under control and why ticket prices are one of the lowest in Europe. In a nutshell, fans are usually not taken for granted. According to Borussia Dortmund CEO, Watzke, “The 50+1 rules does significantly more good than harm.”
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule though.
Bayer Leverkusen & Wolfsburg are 2 special cases in the Bundesliga, based on the fact that investors who have had an interest in a club for more than 20 years can apply for an exemption from the 50+1 rule.
50+1 also directly played a massive role in high average attendances across Germany which are way above their counterparts’ in England, Spain or Italy.
50+1 rule came into existence in 1998 on the background of German clubs being run as non-profit organisations for many decades before that.
If English authorities and especially the fans want to ring in changes to a system which has always had commercial investors at the helm of affairs, it will need huge amounts of patience, diligence and persistence.