Investor deal burst: does the DFL file a criminal complaint after researching a sports show?

Status: 01.06.2023 2:05 p.m

Before the investor deal failed, the sports show published secret DFL documents, which gave the potential investor a right of veto. According to a media report, the DFL management is now considering legal action.

As “Sport Bild” reported on Wednesday (05/31/2023), the DFL leadership may file a criminal complaint against unknown persons for the disclosure of trade secrets. According to the report, the DFL Executive Committee and the DFL Supervisory Board should decide on this at their upcoming meeting. The DFL did not answer a request from the sports show whether the report corresponds to the plans of the DFL and when exactly the meeting is planned.

The background is the publication of secret DFL documents on the investor deal in the sports show three days before the vote on whether the project should be continued or not.

Sports show research: Investor should be given the right to veto

The DFL’s secret paper showed that a potential investor should be granted a right of veto. And with the following structure:

  • The DFL wanted to set up a subsidiary in which an investor should participate.
  • This company should have an advisory board with seven people, two of whom should be provided by the investor.
  • Votes in this control body would have required a simple majority.
  • However, the document said verbatim: “… but transactions that are particularly important for Investors require the approval of the Investor Advisory Board members.”
  • According to the document, a kind of mediation committee was also planned in case the investor had exercised his right of veto.

What exactly “particularly important business” are, the DFL did not answer the request of the sports show. The DFL management had repeatedly emphasized that the potential investor had no special rights. The main aim was to take away the concerns of fans, for example, that a sponsor would set new kick-off times in the schedule or have games played abroad.

law prohibits betrayal of secrets, protects the freedom of the media

The 2019 enacted “Trade Secrets Protection Act” provides for penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment for up to three years in the event of violations. However, the law does not prohibit obtaining, using, or disclosing a trade secret when the “Exercising the right to freedom of expression and information, including respect for freedom and pluralism in the media” serves.

Executive Committee of the DFL eV

Hans Joachim Watzke

Borussia Dortmund

Oliver Leki

Sc freiburg

Steffen Schneekloth

Holstein Kiel

Jan Christian Dreesen

Bayern Munich

Ok divine

FC St Pauli

Axel Hellman

Eintracht Frankfurt

Ansgar panning


Holger Schwiewagner

SpVgg Greuther Furth

Rejection of the investor splits the DFL

The DFL had already polarized the possible involvement of an investor in the run-up to the vote on the deal. The end of the entry of a private equity company led to a real split among the clubs of the DFL. He has “Currently no feeling of how trusting cooperation can look like”, said Axel Hellmann, spokesman for the board of Eintracht Frankfurt, at the SpoBis sports congress in Düsseldorf. Some officials would have built up a force “When you can’t go back as a club representative, because of course you worked with the fears of the clubs”. The Frankfurter also brought a break in the DFL into play: “I hope that we haven’t finally wasted the opportunity to keep everyone together under one roof.”

Markus Rejek, one of the managing directors of 1. FC Köln, said at the same event that further development was advocated. But: “We have to get away from backroom politics and now it has taken on a momentum of its own due to dissatisfaction. If we look back in a few years and say that was the starting point for a new togetherness, it has achieved something.”

Hellmann will be interim DFL managing director together with Freiburg board member Oliver Leki until the end of June. The successor to Hellmann and Leki has not yet been clarified. Several candidates declined: Super League lobbyist Bernd Reichart was not available, nor was Jan-Christian Dreesen, who is now the new CEO at Bayern Munich. The “Sportbuzzer” recently reported that DFB marketing director Holger Blask had been shortlisted.

Supervisory Board of DFL GmbH

Hans Joachim Watzke

Borussia Dortmund

Oliver Leki

Sc freiburg

Rudiger Fritsch

Darmstadt 98

Ralph Huschen

SC Paderborn

Christian Keller

1. FC Cologne

Stephan Schippers

Bor. M’gladbach

Application for the involvement of an investor missed a two-thirds majority

On May 24, three days after the publication of the secret paper in the sports show, a motion by the DFL executive committee to involve an investor in principle had the necessary two-thirds majority at a general meeting of the 36 clubs from the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga missed. Shortly before the start of the meeting, the Presidium made extensive changes to the application in order to respond to criticism from opponents. In the end, however, only 20 of the 36 clubs voted to continue the plans, 24 would have been necessary. Eleven voted against the plan, five abstained.

No investor for the German Football League (DFL) – an application for the involvement of an investor missed the required two-thirds majority, the search for investors is over. Several clubs made their dissenting voices public, the DFL is divided.

Numerous organized fan scenes in both leagues had mobilized a broad protest against the deal. The club management of 1. FC Köln, FC St. Pauli and 1. FC Magdeburg already expressed criticism in advance. After the vote, clubs such as VfB Stuttgart, Schalke 04, Hansa Rostock and Karlsruher SC also announced their rejection.