Frankfurt / Main – DFL boss Christian Seifert radiated delicate confidence when he presented a four-point immediate program of German professional football against the consequences of the corona crisis.
“We are all working flat out to get the football through this phase,” said Seifert after the first virtual general meeting in the history of the German Football League. “When the time comes, we’ll be ready.”
At the roughly three and a half-hour video conference, the bosses of the 36 first and second division teams designed not only a first catalog of measures but also scenarios for a continuation of the season, which had been interrupted until at least April 30, in the 1st and 2nd Bundesliga.
The top priority remains the end of the 2019/20 season by June 30. “If the season has to be stopped, all clubs will suffer financially,” warned Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on the TV channel Sky Sport News HD. 163 games are still outstanding in the two federal leagues.
In order to prevent a short-term collapse of the industry, the general assembly first made four “essential decisions”. In addition to the further suspension of play operations, team training is to be stopped by April 5. “At the same time, we are developing production concepts for all 36 locations of professional football to show how games can be played temporarily without the presence of spectators, with the least possible personnel,” reported Seifert.
In addition, a medical task force was set up and a “further package of measures” was adopted to relieve the clubs of the licensing procedure. So there are no sanctions in the event of bankruptcy applications this season. The deduction of nine points provided for in the statutes will be suspended and reduced to three points for the coming season.
The usual review of the clubs’ liquidity will initially be dispensed with. The normal licensing procedure should not start again until September. In the inventory supplied by the clubs to the DFL, “it became clear that some clubs could endanger their existence in May or June if the season was not over and the TV money was not flowing,” said Seifert.
That is why plans and models of thought were considered in large groups. But: “There is no one plan yet, so there are certainly different approaches to deal with the situation,” said Seifert. “We reserve the right to adjust our tactics as in the game.” The scenarios brought up by several media, for example playing in just a few locations, are “not plans that I have dealt with so far”. The next general assembly is to be called on April 17th.
One thing is already clear: if the game is completely abandoned, the Bundesliga faces a financial loss of around EUR 750 million. In view of the tense economic situation, numerous players had already agreed to waive their wages, and short-time working has long been an issue for employees in the lower leagues. In total,
According to Seifert, professional football will need staying power to deal with the corona crisis and will have to prepare for possible ghost games beyond this season. “At least until the end of the season, it is unrealistic to assume that we will play in front of full stadiums again,” said the 50-year-old DFL managing director. “Which does not mean that it is realistic that we will start again in August before full stadiums.” For this reason, a medium-term loss of audience revenue must be taken into account, “perhaps by the end of the year,” said Seifert.
In view of the massive restrictions caused by the pandemic, he expects significant changes to the game schedule for the coming season and apparently no longer excludes European Cup matches at the weekend. The leagues and international associations demand “great flexibility and accommodating”. Everyone had to “swallow a toad or two,” said Seifert and prophesied: “There will be no regular season until 2021/22.” Therefore, we should also talk about a changed transfer window in the summer.
In this context, Seifert expressly praised the tangible solidarity in German professional football. He felt a high level of focus and backing at the general meeting. That gives hope and confidence. “The league has never been closer together than these days,” said the top manager, adding: “I hope that this will remain so for a long time.”