Soccer-German fans ready to celebrate win over DFL plans as Bayern crisis deepens


Soccer Football - Bayern Munich Press Conference - Saebener Strasse, Munich, Germany - May 28, 2023 New Bayern Munich CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen during the press conference after replacing Oliver Kahn REUTERS/Leonhard Simon/ File photo

(Reuters) - Bundesliga fans will this weekend celebrate their victory over the German Football League's (DFL) now-scrapped investment plans as champions Bayern Munich struggle with their own crisis which risks derailing their entire season.

In December, Germany's first and second-tier soccer clubs voted in favour of letting a financial investor take a stake in the DFL media arm in a deal valued at between 900 million euros and 1 billion euros ($976.95 million and $1.09 billion).

But months-long protests by fans who interrupted scores of Bundesliga matches by throwing tennis balls and candy onto the pitch forced a U-turn on Wednesday by the DFL which cancelled the planned stake sale.

While a lot of attention will be on the stands and how the fans, who saw the planned investment as further commercialisation of the sport, will mark their victory against the DFL's plans, Bayern are in much more sombre mood.

The Bavarians, second in the Bundesliga, said on Wednesday they would part ways with coach Thomas Tuchel at the end of the season -- a year earlier than his contract runs.

They must still put an end to their losing run, however, if they are to rescue their campaign.

On Saturday Bayern host Champions League hopefuls RB Leipzig, who are in fifth place, hoping to snap a three-game losing run in all competitions.

They have lost their previous two league games to drop eight points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who beat them 3-0 earlier this month, with 12 rounds left in the season.

NEW DIRECTION

The 50-year-old Tuchel, who arrived in March 2023 with high expectations, will now last only one full season, having so far failed to deliver, and Bayern said they would take a new direction after he leaves.

"Until then, every individual at the club is expressly called upon to achieve the maximum possible in the Champions League and Bundesliga," Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said.

The Bavarians have their backs to the wall, with hopes of a 12th straight league crown quickly fading.

They also lost 1-0 at Lazio last week in their Champions League last-16 first leg.

Leipzig, a point behind fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund, are desperate to secure a top four finish to play Champions League football next season.

"We are not interested in what the media say about Bayern," said Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. "Even if they are not doing well at the moment, it is still a game against the champions at home.

"We need to be at our best, then maybe we can take three points again against a world class team. Qualifying for the Champions League is the most important thing for us."

($1 = 0.9212 euros)

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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