Bundesliga scraps mega investment deal amid serious fan protests

The German Football League (DFL) has abandoned plans to bring in private investment to the Bundesliga’s media rights business following significant fan pressure.

Last December, 24 of the 36 clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 voted to permit the DFL to commence negotiations to sell an eight per cent stake in its media rights subsidiary.

This deal would have transformed German football with CVC Capital Partners, the only firm in talks with the league, claiming it would have been worth €1 billion ($1.66b AUD).

Following the vote in December, fan groups across the country have staged protests and disrupted games by throwing objects, such as tennis balls, onto the pitch.

The big sub-story to come out of this was the controversy surrounding Hannover 96 chief executive Martin Kind. Despite his team opposing the investment proposal, Kind is believed to have voted for the deal, which gave the DFL the two-thirds majority it needed to begin negotiations.

This has fuelled protests held over recent weeks, with supporter groups believing his vote goes against the ‘50+1 rule’ that gives fans’ 50 per cent of voting rights at German soccer clubs.

Borussia Dortmund CEO and speaker of the DFL executive committee Hans-Joachim Watzke, who was one of the biggest supporters of this external investment, acknowledged the significant division these talks caused.

“This was not limited to within the Ligaverband association between the clubs but also, in some cases, within the clubs themselves: between professional players, coaches, club officials, supervisory bodies, members assemblies and fan communities,” Watzke said in a DFL statement.

“That conflict is increasingly putting match operations, specific matches and thus the integrity of the competition at risk. The viability of a successful contract as regards to financing for the 36 clubs can therefore no longer be assured, given the circumstances.”

This isn’t the first time that the Bundesliga have tried to bring in an investor with the same exact idea floated last year that was swiftly voted down by clubs last year following another set of fan protests.

For the clubs in favour of the investment deal, such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, it will be interesting to see how they respond to this saga. They will be frustrated by being blocked effectively by so-called smaller teams, especially given it has become more difficult to challenge Premier League clubs who enjoy a significant wealth advantage.

Fans are adamant to not allow a replica of the Premier League ownership system which is marred by owners who have a very controversial reputation like Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) who recently took over Newcastle United.

This whole saga has proven the true strength of German football fans and the 50+1 ownership rule which has fan voting on top of the hierarchy when making important decisions like this for the Bundesliga.

 

WOW HYDRATE and Manchester United’s ‘Red Cherry’ drink aligned with mutual values

WOW HYDRATE launched its first-ever co-created ‘Red Cherry’ flavoured drink, working alongside one of the world’s biggest football clubs – demonstrating the shared mission of the two organisations that started with a multi-year global sponsorship from November last year.

WOW HYDRATE is a sports drink brand influencing the future of sports and fitness hydration, through its health benefits in the products.

Their range contains drinks with four essential electrolytes and vitamins B6, C & D – while also being sugar, fat and gluten free.

England and Manchester United centre-back Harry Maguire is a brand ambassador for WOW HYDRATE, who also partner with world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, UK boxing promotion company BOXXER, West Ham United Women’s team, rugby club Castleford Tigers and Essex Cricket.

At the heart of these collaborations is WOW HYDRATE Managing Director Queenie Porter, who shared how the new ‘Red Cherry’ drink came about.

Harry Maguire is an ambassador from Manchester United.

“We had a board meeting last summer and we have some great individual ambassadors while also prominent in the world of boxing, so we asked how can we take the next step,” she told Soccerscene.

“We were wondering how we can resonate with the sport world and touch base with the consumer.

“When looking at football clubs, the number one priority was Manchester United because they are the biggest in the world.

“It was a mutual connection because they were looking for a hydration partner, and we were of course looking for a football club. The deal happened so quickly not in a rush, but because our values aligned so well – Manchester United are fan first, whereas we are consumer first.

“The way that Manchester United run their business is like one big family – from a receptionist all the way up to CEO.

“Both of us operate in the same manner and we just clicked as a result.”

While the sports drinks are prominent in UK-based Tesco stores, we will expect to see a greater expansion in the near future.

Porter shared what we can look forward to.

“We are planning to rollout WOW HYDRATE into 600 Woolworths stores in Australia from late April this year,” she said.

“It adds to our existing reach in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, while this year will also see the push into Europe including Spain and France – while we’ll also enter the United States towards the backend of 2024.

“We want to ensure that everything will be aligned and Manchester United will be a key part of that – whenever we venture somewhere new, the Club will be involved in the launch.”

Porter on the touchline of Old Trafford with the ‘Red Cherry’ drink.

In her role, Porter is passionate about getting the very best out of women’s sport.

Rather than competing, she sees it from a different lens when assessing fan demographics.

“Naturally I’m really passionate about women’s sport, particularly in football,” she said.

“What I want to use my platform for is to support the women’s game in its own identity.

“There’s a lot around people wanting to make the men’s and women’s game equal, but I just want to focus on making the women’s game the best it can be in its own standing.

“It brings in a much more family audience, so from a brand perspective you can tap into what you otherwise would not have before.

“Women have different needs to men such as in recovery, so I want to ensure that women have the support there.

“For example with ACL injuries, our protein drink is one of the best ways to recover white muscle tissues.”

Porter with the Manchester United home shirt.

A key orchestrator of the collaboration was Victoria Timpson, Manchester United’s CEO of Alliances and Partnerships.

The Red Devils will support WOW HYDRATE in promoting all the benefits they offer.

“We are very proud to have welcomed WOW HYDRATE as Manchester United’s official sports hydration partner and excited to work with the brand on educating our fans on the importance of hydration and the science behind its products,” she said exclusively to Soccerscene.

“WOW HYDRATE’s ability to work with the club to collaborate on the dual branded Red Cherry hydration drink and make it available to our fans within months of announcing the partnership, demonstrates its strong position within the global market. WOW HYDRATE has been well received by our fans and we look forward to building on this throughout the partnership.”

WOW HYDRATE’s health benefits in its drinks allow a club like Manchester United to rest and recover from strenuous schedules including the Premier League and European competition.

The household name that is Manchester United, coupled with international expansion, makes WOW HYDRATE a name that’s one to watch.

For full details and its products, you can view WOW HYDRATE’s website here.

Play Our Way grant available until end of April in 2024

Following the respective successes of both the CommBank Matilda’s performance and Australia’s hosting abilities of the 2023 Women’s FIFA World Cup, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has committed $200 million into the “Play Our Way” Grant Program.

As the current biggest investment into Women’s sport across the nation, applications for the grant still remain open with the closing date on April 29, 2024.

Working in conjunction with non-for-profit businesses, local government officials, and sport organizations nationwide, the overall aspiration of the program is to make sport for woman and girls ‘more welcoming and equitable.’ 

The $200 million grant is available in funding over a three year period in which will be split into two streams:

Participation and equipment:
Funding will be placed into programs that inspire females of all ages to become involved within sporting and physical activity obligations. The employment of recruitment and commitment officers, coaches, officials and volunteers is crucial for the growth and sustainability of women’s sport. Further funding will be implemented into equipment to assist with the encouragement of women’s participation. There is nothing more off putting than using out dated, uninspired equipment hence the importance in which surrounds its necessary upgrade.

Facilities:
Much in the same vein as the previous entry, the establishment and improvement of facilities is another primary focus of the program. To encourage and inspire woman to be involved within sport, it is crucial that they are recipients of facilities in that are of a high-standard. The lack of adequacy within facilities can be a deterrent across all sporting codes for all of its participants, regardless of age, ability or gender.

Clubs with all the relevant information are urged to apply for the grant in which can be completed upon the Football Australia website, as well as each state football website. The grant is assessed and determined by the Department of Health and Aged Care, in whom are transparent and impartial. Guidelines within the application process showcased a clubs eligibility, grant amount and time period, application process, and what the grant can be used upon.

The game within Australia is on a trajectory, especially within the women’s cohort. The government backed program presents a monumental opportunity for current and emerging women’s football contingents across the state.

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