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The Demise of the Members' Association Ownership Model in German Professional Football

Ward, SJ and Hines, A (2018) The Demise of the Members' Association Ownership Model in German Professional Football. Managing Sport and Leisure, 22 (5). pp. 358-373. ISSN 2375-0472

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Abstract

German professional football clubs have operated under a members’ association governance structure for several decades. Pressure to change the members’ association governance model in Germany intensified during the late 1990s and as a consequence, governance rulings were relaxed to allow private investment into football clubs. Utilising a case study approach, this article provides a case study insight into Hamburger SV FC, who unlike their counterparts, voted to remain as a members’ association until 2014. The findings highlighted that the governance model helped instil democratic decision-making and influenced the club to favour long-term planning over a short-termist approach. The club faced many challenges to their chosen governance structure due to the growing perception among members that it was hindering the club’s ability to compete on the field. This article contributes to the growing body of literature focusing on the implications a football club’s ownership structure has on performance.

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