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Bundesliga TV rights auction suspended after DAZN allegations

DAZN have alleged DFL for wrongdoing during the auction process

The German Football League (DFL) has put a halt to its bidding process for the sale of the Bundesliga's domestic broadcast rights following a complaint from DAZN, one of the bidders. The online streaming service alleges unfair treatment by the DFL, accusing it of abusing its dominant position in the football broadcast rights market and contravening German and European competition law.

This week has been monumental for German football both on and off the pitch. Bayer Leverkusen clinched their first-ever Bundesliga title while Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich advanced to the Champions League semifinals. However, off-field activities have also garnered significant attention as DFL initiated bidding for its domestic broadcast rights spanning four seasons from 2025/26 to 2028/29.

These billion-euro negotiations occur every four years and are crucial since they represent a primary revenue source for German football clubs.

DAZN says DFL changed terms of biggest package at last moment 

In an unexpected turn of events, DFL confirmed that it had suspended this auction after just three days due to a legal complaint lodged by current rights holder, DAZN.

DAZN claims that it lost out on package B - which is considered as one of the largest packages on sale offering exclusive broadcasting rights to 196 live Bundesliga games per season - due to an inability to produce a last-minute bank guarantee rather than a private letter of responsibility which was accepted in previous auctions.

DAZN released statement:

“DAZN expresses deep disappointment and great dismay that our offer was rejected, even though [we] had made the most financially attractive and most convincing offer for rights package B."

"We are led to believe that our financial offer lay substantially above every other offer."

The streaming service further alleged: "We have no other explanation for this behavior other than that the DFL management had already anticipated awarding package B to its preferred bidder."

DFL denied all allegations despite suspending process

The accusations were strongly refuted by DFL who stated they were 'incorrect and unfounded'. They confirmed conducting their auction process adhering strictly with all relevant rules and regulations in "a transparent and non-discriminatory manner". However, they decided to temporarily halt the auction to ensure the legal security of the process. The DFL also mentioned that it would discuss this issue with Germany's Federal Competition Regulator, Bundeskartellamt, which has already been alerted by DAZN.

DFL released statement:

"The insinuations and accusations raised are incorrect and unfounded and we reject them in the strongest possible terms,"

This legal dispute comes at a critical time for DFL as their current domestic broadcast deals with Sky and DAZN are set to expire at the end of this season in June. The existing deals are valued around €1.1 billion ($1.17 billion), which is distributed among Bundesliga clubs based on a points-based formula.

For comparison, England's Premier League equivalent deal is worth £1.63 billion (€1.9 billion; $2 billion). Following the recent collapse of a proposed private equity investment in its international broadcast rights due to large-scale fan protests, DFL will be particularly eager to increase this figure but now faces potential weeks or months of legal wrangling.

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