German clubs have sent an “important signal” to the rest of the football world by voting to retain and strengthen the country’s 50+1 regulation, according to St. Pauli club secretary Andreas Rettig.
Clubs were expected to decide whether or not to discuss German football’s much vaunted 50+1 rule during a meeting at the DFL on Thursday. However, a resolution from second division side St. Pauli – to retain the regulation outright – received backing from 18 of 34 clubs.
Speaking afterwards, Rettig said: “It’s a great sign. There were some controversial discussions but we’ve found a good compromise. It’s an important signal.”
Earlier in the day, a petition in favour of retaining the rule was delivered to DFL president Dr. Reinhard Rauball. Over 30 metres in length, the document was signed by over 3,097 fan groups and associations from 156 different clubs. SD Europe is one of the signatories.
Die komplette Fan-Basis sitzt euch im Nacken @DFL_Official @DFB #50plus1bleibt pic.twitter.com/43YlHGkKUW — 50+1 bleibt! (@50plus1bleibt) March 22, 2018
The 50+1 rule restricts the influence of investors in German football by ensuring that members retain 50% of the shares plus one share.
It is seen as integral to the thriving fan culture in Germany by most supporters but came under the spotlight recently when a private individual, Martin Kind, tried to take control of Hannover 96 using the 50+1 rule’s ‘exception’ clause.
This ‘exception’ allows for long-time investors in club, who have contributed at least as much as the club’s principal sponsor over a 20-year period, to claim a larger shareholding than usually permitted.
Oke #Göttlich on the decision: “We’re delighted with the outcome. It’s an important commitment to 50+1 and a significant step in the right direction. The meeting also showed that it makes a lot of sense to discuss things with each other.” #fcsp #50plus1bleibt pic.twitter.com/x51PsjiqUh — FC St. Pauli English (@fcstpauli_EN) March 22, 2018
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Dr. Rauball that the St. Pauli resolution, which calls for a “process to improve legal certainty” around the rule, had been supported by 18 of the eligible clubs. Four clubs voted against the wording, nine abstained and three clubs did not register a decision.
Speaking to supporters, he said: “We have respected the way you’ve spilled blood, sweat and tears for your clubs. If you’re pleased with the outcome, then so are we.”
Germany is not the only country to have a 50+1 rule, of course. Swedish supporters, coordinated by Svenska Fotbollssupporterunionen (SFSU), mobilised to retain their regulation previously and are currently planning a new awareness campaign to highlight the positives the rule has for football in their country.