The story of RB Leipzig should’ve been similar to Leicester City’s fairy tale title. RB Leipzig was formed in 2009 and in under 8 years they went from 5th division German football to 1st division and champions league qualification. However, the story goes beyond that.


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RB Leipzig is owned by Austrian energy drink company, Red Bull. The company bought the playing rights from 5th division side SSV Markranstädt. The RB in the club initially stood for Red Bull but German DFB rules do not allow sponsor names in the club, hence it now stands for “Rasen Ballsport Leipzig.”

The Hatred for RB Leipzig among German football can simply be explained by one rule, the “50+1” rule.

Let us go into details:

The 50+1 rule was implemented in Germany post 1998, to allow private investments in clubs. Pre 1998, all the clubs in Germany were non-profit. The 50+1 rule authorizes the 50% + 1% stake in the club to be owned by members of the club and the rest by private owners.

Why was the rule implemented?


The rule protects the heritage of football being ruined by private ownerships for the sake of money. Notable examples being recent Wigan Athletic scandal and the Arab ownership of Manchester City.

While these owners do sometimes bring glory to the club, it is believed to be “bought” rather than “earned.”  The 50+1 ownership makes sure that members of the club have the power to VETO the decisions put forward by owners like change in ticket pricing, changing the crest and Jersey colours. Things which define a football club’s heritage.


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How did Leipzig manage to evade this rule?

Well, technically they haven’t!

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The rules sanctioned the majority of stake to be with the members, hence clubs like Dortmund and Bayern have well over 150k members who actively take part in club’s decisions. However, when RB Leipzig was formed in 2009, they had only 17. Out of those 17, a majority were the members of the ownership company, Red Bull.

The Protests against RB Leipzig

Clubs and Fans in Germany have been very vocal about their disgust for RB Leipzig

Borussia Dortmund’s fans once refused to travel to Red Bull arena for their match against Leipzig, a pattern which is often followed by many clubs.

In 2016, the fans of Dynamo Dresden threw a Bull’s head in the middle of a cup game against RB Leipzig.

The fans of Union Berlin stood silent for the first 15 minutes of their game against Leipzig to show their disagreement.

Union Berlin

For or against 50 + 1 rule?

While the rule protects the heritage of football, it also in some ways hinders competition. Clubs like Schalke have had to sell their best players due to financial restrictions. While clubs like Bayern have completely dominated as they have retained the Bundesliga for the last 7 times. Something which you’d never see in the Premier League, due to limited restrictions in ownerships.

So, give us your thoughts on this rule!


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