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Watzke pleads for “moderation and middle ground” – Limitation “sends a signal to society”

BVB boss Hans-Joachim Watzke appeals to the participants of the conference of state premiers currently in session to exercise “moderation and middle ground” in the expected limitation of spectator capacity.

At the very beginning of his remarks at the virtual general meeting of Borussia Dortmund GmbH und Co. KGaA on Thursday morning, Hans-Joachim Watzke addressed what is currently the most pressing issue for Bundesliga clubs: the admission of spectators at upcoming matches. “All of those responsible in football are of the opinion that we need a significant reduction in spectator numbers in this phase of the pandemic,” said the BVB managing director. “For infection protection reasons and as a signal to society.”

However, Watzke rejects ghost matches – as in Bavaria and Saxony. Instead, he welcomed the push by the NRW state government to limit spectator capacity to a third and only allow seats. For BVB, this would mean that 26,000 spectators would be allowed for the top match against FC Bayern on Saturday. Watzke admitted that such a solution would “hurt” BVB, but would be “appropriate”.

Watzke warns against populism – BVB share price “under pressure “

It is still open, however, what the federal and state governments will agree on at the conference of state premiers on Thursday. Watzke therefore appealed to those responsible to “keep a sense of proportion in all seriousness – and not to resort only to populism in order to possibly divert attention from their own failings”. He said that the Bundesliga was prepared to compromise and was “responsible” – although the games so far had not turned out to be drivers of infection. On the contrary. In terms of hygiene concepts and controls, football was “way ahead in Germany”. This, too, must be taken into account in the evaluation.

The renewed limitation of spectator capacity has a significant impact on Borussia Dortmund’s economic development. Watzke explained at the virtually held shareholders’ meeting that the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years had meant that “our business model could no longer function fully because matchday revenues were cut off”.

He therefore understands that the share price, which was between nine and ten euros before the pandemic began, has been “under pressure” since then, and asked shareholders to be patient: “As long as we don’t have a functioning business model, i.e. a full stadium, it will remain difficult.” On Thursday, the BVB share price stood at 4.24 euros. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial year, no dividend will be paid to shareholders this time either.

Despite losses of 44 million euros and 73 million euros respectively in the past two Corona years, the club is debt-free thanks to the recent capital increase, said Dortmund’s finance director Thomas Treß. The financial liabilities are – as of now – “zero”. The funds from the capital increase in October were used “to make Borussia Dortmund weatherproof and resilient against the background of the pandemic”, Treß said. “We have compensated for financial damage in order not to put a lasting strain on competitiveness.” He justified the request for approval for new authorised capital by saying that he also wanted to have this tool in his suitcase as security in the future. Watzke added: “There are currently absolutely no plans regarding a further capital increase. “

In response to a question from a shareholder, Watzke also said that he wanted to talk to the BVB professionals again about a salary waiver, should the currently rolling fourth Corona wave last longer.

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