Part of the allure of the Bundesliga as a collective in terms of comparing it to Europe’s other top four leagues is the 50+1 rule giving club membership the majority stakes in ownership of its clubs, for the most part. Sure, certain teams have found ways to circumvent the rules and regulations that are in place in Germany, but those pale in comparison to ownership structures from Europe’s most financially elite clubs. Certain clubs are now owned by oligarchs, corrupt billionaire investors, and entire states/governments.
Bayern Munich CEO Oliver Kahn recently expressed his disdain for the ever-growing model of unscrupulous ownership structures of clubs in Europe's top flights in a segment for Vbw Entrepreneur Magazine (via Abendzeitung). “Oligarchs will definitely not play a role with us. They never have, they never will,” Kahn boldly affirmed.
Chelsea FC’s previous ownership of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has been on the forefront of headlines across Europe ever since Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and only highlights the amount of corruption that exists amongst football’s wealthiest owners. And that’s only just one exampled. They’ve since been purchased by American businessman Todd Boehly, but the majority of their success in the past two decades has been on the back of money funneled into the club by Abramovich.
“And actually, oligarch is no longer the right word to describe what’s going on in the football world: there are states that hold shares in the clubs, such as Saudi Arabia in Newcastle or Qatar in Paris Saint-Germain. So FC Bayern is no longer just dealing with oligarchs, but even entire states,” Kahn remonstrated.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the footballing landscape looking forward, though. Kahn is looking forward to the Financial Sustainability System that is set to take effect as of 2024 in an effort to properly balance the way clubs allocate their funds. Specifically, clubs won’t be able to spend more than 70% of their profits on player’s salaries. “The clubs cannot spend more than 70 percent of their income on salaries. This regulation gives me the confidence that we will continue to remain competitive with our resources, which are also very strong. But that only applies if violations are also clearly sanctioned — financially as well as sportingly. If that’s only done halfway, then football’s credibility will slowly start to deteriorate,” Kahn said with an air of optimism.