The German Football League (DFL) has revealed plans to strengthen the 50+1 ownership rule in football leagues across Germany as it fears it may be losing its purpose.

The 50+1 rule was established in 1998 to grant each German club and its fans a majority stake in the set football team, whilst the rest of the 49% can be made up of external or foreign investors, handing fans a significant say in how the team operates. 

However, due to the recent rise of RB Leipzig, who charges a significant fee for voting membership and have the power to deny the application, the rule has been questioned in terms of its effectiveness and stability. 

RB Leipzig were also referred to as ‘Red Bull Leipzig’ for a period of time before a legal battle forced the Bundesliga club to change it to simply ‘RB Leipzig’ as the club is owned by Red Bull GmbH which falls in direct conflict of the 50+1 rule. 

Other notorious cases against the rule are Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg, who have received massive amounts of funding from their pharmaceutical and car owners respectively, who both owned the clubs before the establishment of the rule. 

The DFL is now currently looking into tightening its regulations and compliance of the ruling for its oversight of Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga clubs. The football body has confirmed they aim to grant no more exemptions to the rule like they did to TSG Hoffenheim. 

No timeline has been given on when the new guidelines to the 50+1 rule will come into effect but the DFL revealed that in order for clubs to compete in the first and second divisions of German football, they must adhere to the new set of regulations.

A DFL spokesperson said: “This proposal has now been submitted to the Bundeskartellamt. Among other things there shall be no exemptions offered in the future from the 50+1 rule.”

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