Monday December 4, 2023

German Soccer Pushing $1.1B Rights Deal To Private Equity Investors

  • Governing body mounting third attempt for outside investment
  • Fan opposition played a role in scuttling prior bid to bring in private equity
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The governing body of German professional soccer is reportedly mounting a third effort to sell part of its media rights to private investors for as much $1.1 billion.

The 36 clubs in the top two divisions of the German Football League are set to vote next month on whether to hold an auction for the rights, according to Bloomberg. 

The revived effort follows a prior attempt in May that failed to garner the needed two-thirds approval, and the DFL discontinued a similar initiative in 2021. 

Advocates of the plan are looking to bring in outside investors and much-needed cash, particularly as the league attempts to keep up with heightened competition from European powerhouses such as the Premier League and La Liga. Firms such as CVC Capital Partners, Blackstone and Advent International previously showed interest in investing.

But fan sentiment previously played a role in the downfall of the effort this past spring, with organized supporter groups arguing that private equity involvement would overly commercialize the sport. 

Even after that failed vote, DFL co-CEO Marc Lenz continued to promote the idea, saying that “external investment is not off the table.”

The latest attempt is said to be structured as a reverse auction in which private equity firms would be asked how big an equity stake they would seek in return for the investment up to $1.1 billion — with the likely condition that stake remains below 10%.

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