Bundesliga battles collapse with three-quarters of a billion at stake
BERLIN – At stake is a sum which makes even the giants of the Bundesliga sit up and take note.
In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the words of Bayern Munich's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Borussia Dortmund's Hans-Joachim Watzke linger strongly as clubs become aware of the economic consequences of potentially cancelling the season.
The 36 clubs of Germany's top two divisions are considering a sum around 750 million euros (833.4 million dollars). There is no insurance, for example, against lost television revenue should the season be stopped due to the pandemic.
This was confirmed to dpa from within the league (DFL). The first goal is now to prevent a complete collapse.
If the season did not resume after the 25 matchdays already completed, the loss of television income for the unplayed nine games would be around 370 million euros from an original pot of 1.4 billion euros.
The DFL knows also broadcasters could claim against services not being provided.
"These are private contractual agreements that are understandably not for publication," said main broadcaster Sky.
Considerable economic damage in the three-figure millions would also result from lost sponsorship and gate money. There is a reason the board rooms of clubs all over the country are suddenly becoming very nervous places.
"It is a substantial amount. We are also a business enterprise. We are a football club but of course there's an economic factor," Cologne managing director and DFL board member Alexander Wehrle told RTL/ntv.
"From that there is naturally a point, that is bitter in the Bundesliga, but it is really important to keep calm."
The general meeting of the DFL on Monday in a Frankfurt airport hotel is about much more than just the first steps in coping with the "biggest crisis" of German professional football, according to Watzke.
The search for the best way to end the season by June 30 at the latest is a priority but the term "ordeal" has been mooted because in a worst case the consequences could extend to next term.
"It is to be hoped that the Bundesliga clubs have built up so much substance in the past few years that everyone will survive this crisis," said Watzke, backing Rummenigge's previous comments.
"If this payment was not made, it would be expected that at least many small and medium sized clubs would have financial problems," the Bayern chairman said in justifying his sceptical attitude towards cancelling a fixture round.
Rummenigge was criticized on social media for voicing a view perhaps held by more than just him.
Bayern and Dortmund, with vast fanbases and years of Champions League money and major sponsorship deals behind them, are best placed to fight the coming battle.
So far, the possibly weaker clubs have remained silent.
German football will collectively vote for a postponement of Euro 2020, which European governing body UEFA will decide on Tuesday. Pragmatism is otherwise difficult given no one knows just when playing again will be possible.
The intention is to resume in early April, after the next international break, but this may require matches behind closed doors. This would satisfy television but anger fans.
Sporting cases will also be discussed on Monday should the league be scrapped. A three-quarter majority would confirm the current standings but more likely is 2020 would have no German champion.
A large majority would also be required to increase the league and avoid even harder questions about promotion and relegation.
Decisions on those topics, however, are not expected.dpa