Donata Hopfen's short era as head of the German Football League is about to end, but the problems remain. The emerging interim solution at the top has very little time to take care of the most important task of DFL GmbH: the billion-dollar business with TV rights.
According to dpa information, Axel Hellmann from Eintracht Frankfurt and Oliver Leki from SC Freiburg are to take over the DFL leadership as a double. But only for a limited time, because a new management is to come for the new season. In the summer of next year, however, essential points of the new tender for the media rights must already be clarified. And that is the most important task of a DFL boss.
Who follows hops at the DFL?
The preparations are already underway in the background in order to be able to continue to take in at least 1.1 billion per season. Or even more if possible. At the beginning of the new year, coordination with the cartel office is on the agenda, followed by a market survey by the authority. Finally, the actual tender for the audiovisual media rights is planned for the first quarter of 2024.
But is this schedule tenable given the staffing issues? And who wants to become DFL boss in the summer when the most important process in the company has been running at full speed for a long time and the most important framework conditions have been defined?
These are questions that the DFL supervisory board must ask itself when it meets as planned on Wednesday and the end of hops is to be sealed. If all goes according to plan, the spokesman for the board of Eintracht Frankfurt and the CFO of SC Freiburg will temporarily take over the management. Hellmann and Leki did not want to comment on Tuesday.
The controversial partial sale of the media rights to investors, which was initiated under Hopfen's leadership, must also be clarified as soon as possible. Deutsche Bank already has a mandate for this, as CEO Christian Sewing confirmed to the specialist magazine "Sponsors": "We are very happy that we can accompany the process."
Marketing the Bundesliga is a big topic
Hops announced regional conferences in September, but this has not happened so far. Whether there is even a sufficient majority for such a model is completely open, although revenue of around 3.6 billion is calculated. After all, not long ago, in May 2021, the DFL General Assembly refused to continue ongoing talks about investor participation in foreign marketing. And now it's also about the much more important domestic marketing.
The clubs even rejected the investor model that had been rejected the previous year, even though Christian Seifert, the hops predecessor who was highly regarded in the league, had presented it. Seifert's tenure also saw declines in revenue from sales of TV rights abroad, which were blamed by parts of his successor's league, which began in January 2022.
According to dpa information, 50 million euros are missing because a Chinese contractual partner did not pay, and 40 million euros due to a non-extended contract for the Middle East and North Africa, which was only renewed in September of this year. It seems unlikely that there will soon be significantly more than the 190 million euros planned for this season - regardless of an interim solution or a new appointment to the DFL management.