A German tribunal has agreed to loosen slightly a rule stipulating that clubs in the country's top two divisions must keep a majority of their own voting shares - limiting the role of outside investors.

Topflight club Hannover, which has pushed for years for changes in the so-called ''50 plus 1 rule,'' said Tuesday that a league arbitration panel has approved an alteration.

That means all clubs in the future will be allowed to transfer a majority of their voting shares to an outside investor - but only after 20 years' involvement.

Until now, that was only allowed if the investor was involved in a club for 20 years before January 1999. That cutoff date is now to be scrapped.

The German Football League says the ruling leaves the ''50 plus 1'' regulation largely intact.