Good times could be over for footballing millionaires

25th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

A landmark ruling by Germany's monopoly commission has demanded that football be freely available on public television, spelling an end to huge contracts for exclusive rights

Berlin -- German clubs look set to be hit financially after broadcasters and the German football league (DFL) failed to come to an agreement over rights for the new season which maintained the current level of income.

A recent decision by the monopolies commission deemed it illegal for broadcasting rights to be sold to only one media outlet. The commission demanded that some matches be shown on free-to-view broadcasters rather than cable and sateillite stations where viewers pay sizeable subscription fees.

Consequently the DFL predicts a lower interest in rights by broadcasters themselves and a possible reduction in the amount of money flowing into the game.

Karl-Heinz Rummenige, the chairman of Bayern Munich, lambasted the changes.

"I don't know, if they (the commission), know how football ticks and what negative consequences this will have. I have the feeling that our politicians are throwing ever higher hurdles in our way. I don't know how we are supposed to be internationally competitive and see big problems to come."

Berlin newspapers reported Friday that Hertha BSC, the capital's biggest club, could expect around 7m euro less than predicted due to the changes.

Christian Seifert, business manager for the league association told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "There is a danger that interest in television rights will now be much lower than expected."

A reduction in the money the league receives will not be universally unpopular among fans. Europe-wide there is criticism of the amount of money which clubs, and therefore players, receive. Player wages are a contentious issue, with the average footballing wage dwarfing that of the average fans, who can earn as much in one week as supporters may earn in an entire year.

Traditionally Germany has had one of Europe's strongest leagues but now faces the prospect of losing its most attractive players to better-paying clubs in England, Spain and Italy.

Dominic Hinde

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