Bundesliga Clubs Count the Cost of Coronavirus
Newly-promoted VfB Stuttgart have become the latest Bundesliga club to seek state aid to help them balance the books as the loss of revenue caused by the Coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on club finances across Germany. A number of established names are counting the cost of the Geister Spiele ("Ghost Games") played behind closed doors and the subsequent loss of matchday revenue coming through the turnstiles. Stuttgart's finance officer Stefan Heim said “During the lockdown phase, we examined all the possibilities for economic stabilisation and… applied for funding in order to secure our liquidity . This was one of the measures we took to ensure VfB’s economic survival at a time when nobody could predict when and how things would continue in football.” The loan is said to be in the region of €15 million.
Werder Bremen, who themselves only managed to stay in the Bundesliga thanks to an away-goals victory over 1.FC Heidenheim 1846 last week, have confirmed that they too have applied to the state-owned KfW Bank for a loan to see them through the current crisis. And Ruhrpott giants, Schalke 04 who had reported debts of €198 million even before the pandemic, recently asked the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for a guarantee to secure a loan worth around €40 million after losing around €2 million revenue for each of the four home games they ended up playing behind closed doors.
Even runners-up Borussia Dortmund are looking into ways of securing financial help from the state, according to magazine Der Spiegel. However, Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke says the government must also check whether clubs are running into difficulty because of the pandemic or because of mismanagement. "The State must check whether these are real effects of corona or not." said Watzke.
The view is one shared by many in Germany and the situation is the subject of debate across the country. Jens Ammann from the German Taxpayers Federation told website Business Insider "It should not be the case that failed business models in football are artificially maintained by taxpayers' money. It can't be that professional salaries in the millions might end up being paid for by tax money."