Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has long been a strong advocate for eliminating the 50+1 rule from the Bundesliga (and 2. Bundesliga) in order to let each club independently decide if they want to allow capital to come in from outside investors. The Bayern CEO believes that eliminating the rule would make the majority of the clubs more competitive, especially on a global level considering that all of the other top leagues in Europe allow outside investment
The DFL held an assembly last week in Frankfurt for the 36 clubs in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga. The assembly had been intended as a forum for a general discussion of what direction the DFL should take the 50+1 rule to remain competitive internationally. Instead, a surprise vote was held at which a majority voted to retain the 50+1 rule (18 for, 4 against, 9 abstained, 3 did not participate, and 2 not present).
In an interview with Kicker, Rummenigge acknowledged that he is deeply disappointed with the outcome of the assembly and lamented the current state of the DFL:
I mentally said farewell to the DFL a bit last Thursday. I think the entire development at the DFL right now is alarming. I feel there’s no leadership. My impression is that [DFL chairman] Christian Seifert is pretty frustrated right now.
In particular, Rummenigge felt that the assembly was derailed by the surprising motion advanced by St. Pauli’s Andreas Rettig, who proposed a general vote on whether to keep 50+1:
I think what happened was not planned and may even have been underestimated. What was planned was a serious discussion of how in the future we should operate with 50+1. Not a final decision on the topic. That should have been worked out until the year’s end and then put to the assembly for a vote. But it became an emotional and populist spectacle by Rettig. That’s what’s really unbelievable about this outcome.
Rummenigge was particularly irritated that the DFL followed the motion spearheaded by a club that does not compete internationally:
The league, especially the DFL and its members, is obviously divided. It disturbs me that a second-division club that has never played in a European competition to my knowledge [i.e. FC St. Pauli], should suddenly play not only such a prominent role, but even a dominant one.
Worried about the future of the German soccer leagues
Thus in Rummenigge’s eyes, the assembly last week is a major step backwards in trying to make the German leagues more competitive. Bayern Munich currently are atop the Bundesliga table with a 17 point lead and are on the cusp of clinching their sixth consecutive title. This highlights the need for change to make the league more exciting, Rummenigge admitted:
I am increasingly concerned about competitiveness, national and especially international. Bayern Munich is ahead for the sixth consecutive time with a towering lead—everything’s pleasant, comfortable; but that isn’t the goal. The most emotional championship I experienced was in 2001 in Hamburg [ed.: when Bayern won at the last minute of the season]. The fans and friends of soccer across Germany hope for such excitement. With the Frankfurt vote, they let the branch that competitiveness was hanging from be sawed off—and by a mediocre second-league side, don’t you forget!