Bundesliga players onside with wage cuts amid coronavirus crisis
BERLIN – Faced with the loss of millions of euros in earnings, Bundesliga clubs are increasingly approaching players to accept salary cuts while the German league remains suspended.
In some cases, players have come forward collectively to offer to take cuts as the coronavirus pandemic begins to turn into an existential crisis for professional football.
Borussia Moenchengladbach were the first of the German top-flight clubs to announce reductions when players agreed a voluntary cut to salaries last week.
The coaching staff, directors and executives joined them in what could mean a saving of more than 1 million euros (1.1 million dollars) a month, according to local media.
Players of Werder Bremen, in the middle of a fight to avoid relegation, have followed Gladbach's example.
"The team approached us pro-actively," said sports director Frank Baumann. "We have players who identify totally with Werder, the staff and the fans - especially in difficult times."
Borussia Dortmund are asking their players to take a 20-per-cent cut from their basic wages, local media reported. For matches behind closed doors, a 10-per-cent reduction is being requested.
According to WAZ daily, Dortmund could save up to 10 million euros if the reductions are agreed.
It would not be the first time Dortmund players have been asked to take cuts. The squad in 2003 agreed a 20-per-cent reduction to help the club in a financial crisis.
The Dortmund management and coach Lucien Favre have already agreed to forego some of their regular salaries, reports said.
Bayer Leverkusen's players and management are also ready to take wage cuts, sport chief executive Rudi Voeller said.
After talks with captain Lars Bender, Voeller told Bild daily: "We are concerned and the players too. Lars gave me the signal. Everyone is required to help their own club.
"Everyone has to play a part, and of course that also applies to those in charge."
With the German league suspended until at least April 2 and almost certainly longer, Voeller is still hoping the Bundesliga will be able to end the season.
"Despite all the worries we have these days, things should go on at some point if the situation permits, even if we initially have matches behind closed doors," the former Germany striker said.
German Football League (DFL) chief executive Christian Seifert, when announcing the suspension, said games would most likely have to be held behind closed doors to complete the season "as the only chance for survival" for some clubs, with tens of thousands of jobs at stake.
Fan groups have already called closed door games unacceptable but Seifert said without this option and the protection of valuable television income many clubs would be in danger of financial collapse.
"There is more at stake than a few football games," he said.
A cancellation of the season would cost the clubs an estimated 750 million euros.
And DFB vice-president Rainer Koch said games without spectators, if they become an option, would help protect the "several thousand work places" created by professional football.
"No one wants games without football fans, but we even less want no football at all," Koch said, warning that without such games "the viability of football is at risk."
Separately Jan-Christian Dreesen, chief financial officer of giants Bayern Munich, warned: "One thing is already clear: in national and international football, clubs, leagues and associations face huge challenges to stay afloat."
Like other countries, Germany aims to complete the league now that the Euro 2020 tournament has been postponed by a year.
Irrespective of wage cuts, some players have taken their own initiatives as a result of the coronavirus crisis to raise money to help those in need.
Bayern Munich duo Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich have founded the 'We kick corona' programme with a 1 million euro donation to fund charitable and social causes.
"On the pitch we can beat anyone," Goretzka said. "But we can only defeat corona together."
The German national team similarly announced details of donations it would make to social programmes.dpa