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Virtual Bundesliga partners with major esports company

The DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga has partnered with ESL, the world’s largest esport company to operate the media production for the Virtual Bundesliga (VBL).

The partnership starts with immediate effect and sees ESL obtain the media rights for the VBL.

ESL will produce the coverage for VBL Club Championship matches. The coverage will be livestreamed on VBL social media channels – and includes a virtual studio, and a presenter.

The VBL is an esports competition which started in 2012 and sees Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 teams compete against each other. The Bundesliga was the first professional football league to launch an official esports football competition.

The DFL said it wants to “meet the growing interest in eSport even more comprehensively”. ESL has  been given the chance to license the media rights to other distribution partners, while the 26 clubs competing in the VBL will also be able to broadcast their matches via their own channels.

“The Virtual Bundesliga is already the most authentic representation of a football league in EA Sports FIFA. We want to continue establishing it as a digital competition,” EVP Digital Innovations at the DFL, Andreas Heyden said.

“To that end, we have secured a partner in ESL that has already proven its ability to successfully grow eSport competitions and communities worldwide – including in the area of football simulations. We would like to make the VBL even more alive and exciting, and ESL has the necessary experience and passion to do just that.”

The DFL believes that this partnership will develop and professionalise the Virtual Bundesliga.

“eFootball has been an integral part of the Esport community and of ESL for many years now,” Co-CEO of ESL, Ralf Reichert said.

“Together with the DFL, the most important sports league in Germany, we want to develop the VBL further to make it a renowned sports league and take it to the next level. That way, we can authentically transfer the emotions and values of football to the digital world and make the Virtual Bundesliga accessible to all, whether as a fan or an athlete.”

The 2020-21 season of the VBL Club Championship starts on November 10.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Acun Medya Group secures Hull City takeover

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, headed by Acun Ilicali.

EFL Championship side Hull City AFC has been purchased by Turkish production company Acun Medya Group, for a fee in the reported region of $37 million AUD.

Acun Ilicali, a 52-year-old businessman and owner of Acun Medya Group, was introduced to fans at the MKM Stadium prior to the club’s 2-0 win at home over Blackburn Rovers.

The takeover brings the controversial ownership of the Allam family to an end, much to the delight of fans after a roller coaster 11 years in charge.

Despite overseeing two promotions to the Premier League, an FA Cup Final and Hull’s first-ever foray into a European competition through the UEFA Europa League in 2014, the Allam family became increasingly unpopular with the fans.

The unpopularity of the Allam family is due to many different reasons, however it all started when the family proposed a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ back in 2013. The move was ultimately blocked by authorities a year later, which frustrated the Allams and they then put the club up for sale, straining the relationship with fans and seeing a decline in attendances at home fixtures.

The new ownership will look to win back supporters and turn the negative tide.

Acun Medya Group Owner, Acun Ilicali:

“I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City. We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans,” he said.

Outgoing Vice-Chairman Ehab Allam:

“During our tenure, we have worked hard to create a sustainable model and successful academy set-up, giving the club the foundations it needs for the future,” he said.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the last 11 years or so, but we will take some very fond memories with us… We have taken a very business-led approach to running the club and I truly hope Acun can rebuild the relationship with the fanbase and also bring back the success on the pitch that fans crave and deserve.”

Hertha Berlin pushing hard for stadium upgrade

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to the Olympiastadion.

Top-flight German football club Hertha Berlin has reiterated its intention to develop a new stadium nearby to its current home, the Olympiastadion, releasing fresh renderings of its vision for such a project.

The club has been attempting to progress plans to develop a new home for several years and in February 2020 stated that the OlympiaPark would be the preferred location.

In November 2018, Hertha confirmed it was targeting an opening date in July 2025 for a new-look Olympiastadion, with preference to be building a completely new stadium rather than renovating the current one.

The current Olympiastadion has been home to Hertha Berlin for almost 60 years, and has a capacity of around 74,000. However, the club is seeking a more intimate stadium for its fans, as well as the inclusion of an athletics track.

Hertha’s former stadium commissioner, Klaus Teichert, withdrew an application for a decision to be made on the location for a new stadium, with Brandenburg also put forward as a potential location.

Hertha Berlin Chief Financial Officer, Ingo Schiller:

“We have entered into talks with the new government and are working hard to set the course for our new stadium in 2022,” he said.

“The stadium is the club’s most important project, especially in terms of the economic situation.”

There is a lot of political support necessary for the project to get approved, as the potential worksite currently includes residential apartments, a big reason for negotiations coming to a stall at times.

A resident spoke to local radio station rbb24:

“You talk about ir, but not with us. We are still not prepared to sell our apartments in Sportforumstraße or to negotiate about them,” they said.

“It is very unfortunate that our residents in Sportforumstraße are once again unsettled by this uncoordinated approach.”

Hertha Berlin and backers of the new stadium have been in negotiation with Berlin’s sports senator, Iris Spranger, with talks to continue over the next month.

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