Axel Hellmann corrected a statement from which it could be concluded that Martin Kind was involved in the vote on an investor “Yes” voted. The voice of the managing director of Hannover 96 has been causing discussions for months and is the subject of the current massive fan protests.
“I don’t know how Mr. Kind voted. So to be linguistically precise, I should have used the subjunctive.”said Hellmann, as a member of the Executive Committee of the German Football League (DFL), on Monday (February 12, 2024) at the request of Sportschau.
The day before, Hellmann said in the “Bild Sport” program broadcast on “Welt TV”: “We had a valid proxy vote from Martin Kind. That was the 24th vote.”
This statement suggested that Hellmann knew the voting behavior of the managing director of second division club Hannover 96.
Child remains silent about behavior during secret voting
Since the vote on December 11, 2023, when exactly the two-thirds majority required from 24 clubs was achieved for an investor to join, there have been discussions about Kind’s voting behavior. Hanover’s majority shareholder has remained silent since then, citing the secret vote.
Kind’s well-known stance for an investor, public confessions from eleven clubs about “no” votes and abstentions, as well as information from Sportschau and other media that 1. FC Kaiserslautern also voted against the deal, suggest that one from Hanover “Yes” came.
However, Hannover 96 eV had previously instructed Kind to vote “no” and communicated this publicly.
Kind’s voice and the 50+1 rule
There are different views on whether Martin Kind’s “yes” vote would have violated the 50+1 rule, an integral part of German professional football. The rule states that the majority of votes must belong to the parent club, even if the club’s corporation is one of 36 shareholders in the DFL.
There has been a dispute for years between the parent club Hannover 96 eV and the capital side represented by Kind. The eV would like to remove the managing director, but despite the 50+1 rule, it does not have a sufficient majority in the responsible committee.
Hellmann: Kind’s voice is definitely “legally valid”
“I wanted to clarify the following: It is often assumed that Mr. Kind’s vote was the 24th yes vote. But even if this had been the case, then this vote would be legally valid.”it goes on to say in Axel Hellmann’s answer to the Sportschau’s query.
He followed the argument of DFL managing directors Marc Lenz and Steffen Merkel, who had already said immediately after the meeting in December that the right to give instructions in Hanover was an internal matter for the club, but did not affect Kind’s voting behavior in the league association.
Fans are protesting in many stadiums – also because of 50+1
In many stadiums in the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga there have been massive fan protests for weeks against the possible entry of an investor who would be called either “CVC” or “Blackstone”, both private equity companies. By throwing tennis balls, chocolate coins and other actions, some organized fan scenes forced significant game interruptions on the 21st matchday of the two highest leagues, for example in the games 1. FC Union Berlin against VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV against Hannover 96.
A crucial part of the criticism relates to the secret vote. In addition to the lack of transparency, there is also criticism of Martin Kind’s perceived undermining of the 50+1 rule.
Demand for further coordination from officials
In order to dispel the doubts, not only fans but also club officials have now called for another, this time open, vote. Dirk Zingler, President of 1. FC Union Berlin, told Sportschau: “Unfortunately, we have not been able to avoid the appearance that there is a violation of 50+1.” He therefore advocates that the final negotiated offer be put to a vote. “What speaks against it?”
According to Hellmann, this vote was not possible because the result of December 11th was “legally effective” and no one took legal action against it within the prescribed period.
At that time, the DFL executive committee was given the mandate to complete negotiations with an investor without obtaining another two-thirds majority from all clubs.
Claus Vogt gets the ball rolling
Like Zingler, leading representatives of the second division clubs VfL Osnabrück, Hertha BSC, Eintracht Braunschweig, Karlsruher SC and Hansa Rostock as well as Claus Vogt from the Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart are in favor of another vote. Vogt got the public discussion rolling on Wednesday (February 7, 2024) with a post on social media.
Other clubs join Axel Hellmann. “We currently see no reason to follow one democratic vote with another“, said Borussia Dortmund in response to a request from the magazine “11 Freunde”, which surveyed all 36 clubs. According to the report, Mainz 05, SC Paderborn, RB Leipzig and 1. FC Heidenheim also see no need for further coordination.
Another vote is planned anyway
At least one further vote is planned anyway: As a structural requirement for a partner to join, a corresponding change to the statutes is necessary, which requires a two-thirds majority. According to the statutes, the DFL sees the clubs as having an obligation to clear the way for entry structurally after the general vote; a club lawyer expressed doubts about this.
Why the DFL wants a partner
The 36 clubs largely agree that the DFL needs to develop further. The goal is more digitalization, better transmission technology, an offer for younger target groups and growth abroad. There was disagreement before the vote in December about how the necessary measures should be financed.
The framework conditions of the model approved in December stipulate that the investor will receive a maximum of eight percent of the marketing revenue for 20 years. The DFL is to receive one billion euros in return. The DFL’s hope is that revenue will increase overall and the deal will be worthwhile for both sides.
The DFL repeatedly assured that the investor would have no influence on areas such as kick-off times or schedules abroad. Instead, the model offers the chance to keep the group of 36 clubs together permanently.