BERLIN: The German Football League (DFL) suffered a legal blow on Wednesday when a court in Bremen ruled that Bundesliga clubs should pay police costs for high-risk matches.
The issue of who pays for policing bad-tempered league games is under the spotlight before Saturday's north German derby when Werder Bremen host Hamburg.
An appeals court in Bremen ruled Wednesday that the city was right to send the league a bill of 425,000 euros ($524,207) for policing a derby against Hamburg in 2015 where rival fans clashed.
The total figure has since risen to two million euros for policing six trouble-hit games in Bremen.
German football matches are economically successful because of the security provided by police, the court ruled.
"If you earn a lot of money through the league, it is appropriate not to charge all the costs to the general public," said Bremen senator Ulrich Maeurer.
The decision overrules a lower court in Bremen which had previously said the city was unlawful to bill for policing, but the DFL plan to appeal.
"The court's legal evaluation, with all due respect, is incorrect," said DFL president Reinhard Rauball.
The DFL will appeal against the verdict with the matter now set to go to Germany's Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.
Reinhard Grindel, president of the German Football Association (DFB), said clubs should not have to pay.
"It remains the state's task to ensure public safety and order," said the DFB chief.
Borussia Dortmund's chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke has "relatively little understanding" for the verdict.
"I hope that this is not only related to football and that all other popular festivals are proportionately charged with costs," said Watzke.
Senior figures in German football point to the fact that top-tier clubs paid 1.17 billion euros in taxes and duties last season alone.
However, there is little sympathy given the vast sums of money generated in German football after the DFL said revenue for the 36 clubs in the top two divisions grew to 4.1 billion euros in 2016/17.