The DFL is looking for investors: Third division clubs are demanding participation

Status: 05/20/2023 1:36 p.m

In a letter to the DFL, 15 clubs in the 3rd division have asked for participation in the possible investor deal. The clubs claim that many of them helped make the Bundesliga big and that the money could increase the differences.

The letter, signed by 15 third division teams and available to Sportschau, was sent to the DFL and also to the DFB this week. Clubs list three aspects of their request for financial involvement:

  1. Many clubs in the 3rd division used to play in the Bundesliga and the 2nd Bundesliga. This would have them “contributed to building the reputation of the ‘Bundesliga’ brand in recent years or decades”as stated in the letter. The reasoning: Therefore, not only the current 36 DFL members should benefit from the money. “A selective realization of the values ​​generated leads to random benefits, depending on whether you are currently there in the 60-year history or not.”
  2. The third division clubs criticize that with the planned use of income from the next 20 years, the income from future climbers will also be spent, but they may no longer benefit from the billions of an investor, while the income from the participation will decrease. “Future participants bear the risk of reduced income without this risk being offset by financial compensation”the letter says.
  3. In the letter, the third division clubs express the fear that the financial gaps will increase as a result of the possible entry of an investor and the planned distribution of the money. “Between the two federal leagues and the 3rd league are already evident today, but this would increase them even more.”, write the clubs. There is talk of a “closed shop” for economic reasons.

Dynamo Dresden and MSV Duisburg

One stands by the entry of an investor “in no way” the clubs write that they are fundamentally opposed to it. But it needs one “proper distribution” of the money, which means: The third division clubs want a part of the money.

The letter was signed by 15 clubs, mostly with a history of several years in the Bundesliga and/or the 2nd Bundesliga: Dynamo Dresden, Erzgebirge Aue, FC Ingolstadt, 1. FC Saarbrücken, FSV Zwickau, MSV Duisburg, Rot-Weiss Essen, SC Verl, SpVgg Bayreuth, SV Meppen, SV Waldhof Mannheim, TSV 1860 Munich, VfB Oldenburg, Viktoria Cologne and VfL Osnabrück.

Formerly a Bundesliga game, now a third division game: Waldhof Mannheim versus MSV Duisburg

antitrust To ponder

The third division clubs express, among other things, antitrust concerns. The DFL is subject “as is well known, the ban on cartels is unrestricted” and “the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position”.

The clubs are talking about one “Construction of market entry barriers”the “in our view, constitute restrictions on competition and discrimination to the detriment of other clubs”. The undersigned managing directors of the clubs bring as a result “antitrust consequences” in the game.

Income of all clubs 2021/22 according to DFL and DFB
leagueTotal (euros)



2nd Bundesliga


3rd league


The Bremer Bridge, the stadium of the third division club VfL Osnabrück

In a letter to the DFB, which organizes the 3rd division, the clubs referred to the urgency of the issue. Due to time and organizational reasons, it was not possible to coordinate with all clubs from the 3rd division and from the regional leagues. “But we are convinced that the topic will also be of great interest to other clubs.” In the letter, the clubs ask for a position from the DFB, for example on the question of whether the DFL’s project is compatible with the basic contract between the DFL and the DFB.

DFL plan: Two billion euros, a large part of it for the clubs

The DFL is planning to set up a subsidiary to bundle the TV rights there, which make up a large part of the income. The core of the plan is as follows:

  • An investor pays the league two billion euros.
  • for that 12.5 percent of the proceeds for 20 years from the sale of the rights of this subsidiary are left to the partner.
  • The goal: Overall revenue should increase and bring a lasting profit for everyone in addition to the billion payment.

40 percent of the money, which the investor pays, should remain with the DFL in order to promote the internationalization and digitization of the league. The most important element is the establishment and maintenance of a video platform to address a younger and international audience. In terms of foreign marketing, for example, the Bundesliga clearly lags behind the Spanish league.

60 percent of the money should go to the clubs in different ways. According to the DFL, a large part should flow earmarked into infrastructural measures at the clubs and cannot be freely put into the player squad or into debt reduction. That depends on the condition of the infrastructure of the individual clubs – those who need little or no infrastructural measures can use the remaining money freely. The money distribution should be based on the usual distribution according to the well-known TV key, in which the top clubs get more money and the clubs in the lower range less money. In addition, money from the possible business should be used to compensate for the missing income that goes to the investor.

Many clubs from the DFL area are in favor of the deal, with public criticism recently only coming from FC St. Pauli and 1. FC Köln. Clear contradiction comes mainly from many active fan scenes of professional clubs. On May 24, the 36 DFL clubs will vote in a general meeting on whether the project will be continued or not.