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Bayern Munich chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hits out as 50+1 rule retained

Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has hit out at the German Football League (DFL) after 18 of its 36 clubs voted to keep the 50+1 rule in the Bundesliga, saying it would harm European competitiveness.

The vote, which took place on Thursday, came after a motion tabled by second-tier club St. Pauli, and Rummenigge said the outcome would harm German clubs in continental competitions.

Under DFL rules, clubs in Germany are not allowed into the upper two tiers if commercial investors have more than a 49 percent stake.

The rule, introduced in 1998, guards German clubs against takeovers and, in theory, ensures they remain fan-owned.

Eighteen clubs including Borussia Dortmund voted to retain it with only four, including Bayern and RB Leipzig, voting against.

"It's evident that the league, especially the DFL with its members, is torn," Rummenigge told kicker.

"It causes disconcertment that a second league club [St. Pauli] which, as far as I know, has never played in a European competition, not only takes a prominent but also a dominating position.

"With the vote, the branch on which competitiveness sits has been weakened by a mediocre team from the second division. Don't forget this."

The vote was held after a motion tabled by St Pauli.

He added that the Bundesliga "has always been very generous" in its treatment of second-tier clubs but warned: "I don't know whether this will still be the case in the future."

Citing investor takeovers at clubs such as Chelsea and PSG, Rummenigge said "a new quality was introduced" and argued that "more quality meant more excitement and better football."

He said: "On Thursday I mentally said goodbye to the DFL, at least parts."

Rummenigge urged the DFL and the German FA (DFB) to "not only look at finances, but also  continue to develop and create visions."

But St. Pauli president Oke Gottlich told newspaper taz that Thursday's decision was the starting point for a "serious debate" on financial imbalances.

He added: "Some say that retaining the 50+1 rules bans investors. That's nonsense. Many clubs have already taken on partners to certain limits.

"We should talk of an exciting competition rather than the rat race for the biggest investor."

Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.

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