Stuttgart Join Cash-Strapped Bundesliga Clubs Seeking State Aid

stuttgart
Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Arena. Photo: [email protected] Stuggart

 

Newly-promoted VfB Stuttgart are the latest cash-strapped Bundesliga club seeking financial aid because of lost matchday revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stuttgart finished runners-up in Germany’s second division at the end of June to win promotion back to the Bundesliga a year after being relegated.

However, the 2007 German champions are among established names needing help balancing the books.

“During the lockdown phase, we examined all the possibilities for economic stabilisation and… applied for funding in order to secure our liquidity,” the club’s finance officer Stefan Heim told newspapers the Stuttgarter Nachrichten and Stuttgarter Zeitung.

“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.”

Heim said Stuttgart applied for aid through the state-owned KfW Bank, reportedly seeking a loan of around 15 million euros ($17 million).

They are not alone.

Germany’s top clubs are counting the cost of lost revenue as the last nine rounds of matches in the top two tiers were played behind closed doors due to the pandemic.

Werder Bremen, who just managed top stay in the Bundesliga after winning the relegation/promotion play-off, have confirmed that they want a loan from the state-owned KfW Bank.

Schalke 04, who had debts of 198 million euros before the pandemic, recently applied to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for a guarantee to secure a loan, reportedly worth around 40 million euros.

Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke lost around two million euros of revenue for each of the four home games 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 check whether clubs hit financial difficulties through the coronavirus or bad management.

“The State must check whether these are real effects of corona or not,” said Watzke.

Others agree and the situation is the subject of debate in Germany.

“It should not be the case that failed business models in football are artificially maintained by taxpayers’ money,” Jens Ammann from the German Taxpayers Federation told website Business Insider.

“It can’t be that professional salaries in the millions might end up being paid for by tax money.”

AFP

 

Merkel Condemns ‘Abhorrent’ Stuttgart Rampage

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference on March 11, 2020 in Berlin to comment on the situation of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply condemned a violent rampage in Stuttgart, her spokesman said Monday, calling the brutal attacks against police officers and the looting of shops by hundreds of people “abhorrent”.

“Whoever has done this has turned against their city, against the people with whom they live and against the laws that protect us all,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said of the riots that erupted over the weekend.

German authorities have expressed shock over the rampage of an “unprecedented scale” in the early hours of Sunday in the city centre of Stuttgart, where hundreds of partygoers ran riot, attacking police and plundering stores after smashing shop windows.

Two dozen people, half of them German nationals, were arrested provisionally, as police reported at least 19 colleagues hurt.

Tensions built up shortly after midnight when officers carried out checks on a 17-year-old German man suspected of using drugs, Stuttgart deputy police chief Thomas Berger said.

Crowds who were milling around at the city’s biggest square, the Schlossplatz, immediately rallied around the young man and began flinging stones and bottles at police.

The groups of mostly men also used sticks or poles to smash windows of police vehicles parked around the square, which is next to the regional parliament of Baden-Wuerttemberg as well as the state’s finance ministry.

At the height of the hours-long clashes, some 400 to 500 people joined in the battle against police officers and rescue workers.

In a speech on Monday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said perpetrators of the rampage must be “prosecuted and punished with all the severity of the law”.

“We must resolutely oppose anyone who attacks police officers, who shows contempt for them or gives the impression that they should be ‘disposed of’,” said the president.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is due to visit Stuttgart along with his state interior minister Thomas Strobl to take stock of the trail of destruction left behind in the rampage.

AFP

Stuttgart Name Tim Walter As New Coach

Then head coach of Second Division Bundesliga football club Holstein Kiel Tim Walter during the Second Division Bundesliga football match Holstein Kiel vs Dynamo Dresden in Kiel.  Axel Heimken / DPA / AFP

 

Relegation-threatened Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart announced Monday that current Holstein Kiel boss Tim Walter will take over as head coach at the end of the season.

Walter, 43, led Kiel to sixth in the second division this season and has now signed a two-year deal to become the long-term successor to former Stuttgart boss Markus Weinzierl, who was sacked in April.

READ ALSO: Buhari Congratulates Super Falcons On WAFU Women’s Cup Victory

“Tim Walter’s idea of brave, attacking football fits Stuttgart brilliantly,” said Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger.

“Together, we want to place more focus on our own youth players.”

Walter, who worked as a youth coach at Bayern Munich and Karlsruhe before taking over at Kiel last year, will take over after Stuttgart’s fate is decided in the relegation play-off next week.

Interim coach Nico Willig will remain in charge for the play-off games on Thursday and Monday, as Stuttgart look to avoid the drop against promotion hopefuls Union Berlin.

AFP

Stuttgart Sack Coach Weinzierl After Six-Goal Thrashing

Relegation-threatened Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart have sacked coach Markus Weinzierl following a 6-0 humiliation at the hands of fellow strugglers Augsburg on Saturday.

Weinzierl had lost 15 of his 23 games in charge of Stuttgart since taking the reins in October last year.

Stuttgart have been locked in the relegation play-off place for a number of weeks, and have not won since March.

They are now six points adrift of safety, and ten points behind Augsburg, who inflicted a sobering defeat on them on Saturday.

“After the highly disappointing game in Augsburg, we have come to the conclusion that we need a clean break,” said Stuttgart’s head of sport Thomas Hitzlsperger in a statement.

“We did not take this decision lightly, but the success of the club comes before everything else.”

Weinzierl appeared to be aware of his impending fate after the heavy defeat.

“I didn’t make a good case for myself today,” he admitted.

Under-19 boss Nico Willig will now be charged with guiding the team to survival as interim coach.

With a bottom-three finish now more likely than ever, Willig will be primarily concerned with ensuring that Stuttgart do not drop from the play-off spot into the automatic relegation places.

They are currently just three points ahead of second-from-bottom Nuremberg, with four games still to play.

AFP

Drama In Stuttgart As Bayern Go 11 Points Clear

Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Sven Ulreich stops a ball during the German first division Bundesliga football match between VfB Stuttgart and Bayern Munich on December 16, 2017 in Stuttgart. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP

Thomas Mueller came off the bench to score the winner and Sven Ulreich saved a 95th-minute penalty as Bayern Munich won 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday to go 11 points clear in the Bundesliga.

Mueller put the visitors ahead with 11 minutes remaining and keeper Ulreich saved Chadrac Akolo’s spot-kick as Bayern remained in pole position to win a sixth straight league title heading into the winter break.

“Sven Ulriech is worth his weight in gold to us,” said a relieved Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

Head coach Heynckes named a star-studded team, but Bayern were left frustrated until he threw Mueller on for the final 25 minutes.

The Germany international delivered in style when Stuttgart made a rare mistake, as he was allowed to smash home unmarked from the edge of the area.

And Ulreich, back in goal after a groin strain, was the hero as he dived to his right to save Akolo’s penalty after the video assistant referee confirmed Niklas Suele made contact with Santiago Ascacibar’s knee in the area.

Brazilian defender Naldo scored in the 95th minute to snatch a 2-2 draw for second-placed Schalke at Eintracht Frankfurt, as they fought back from two goals down late on to extend their 11-match unbeaten run.

“In terms of our mentality, we were very good,” said Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco.

“We always believe in ourselves and push each other – the way this team has developed is super.”

Having also scored a last-gasp equaliser when Schalke came from four goals down to sneak a 4-4 draw at arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund last month, centre-back Naldo again rescued the Royal Blues’ undefeated run in Frankfurt.

Eintracht raced out of the blocks when Luka Jovic beat Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann with just two minutes gone and went 2-0 up 24 minutes from time when Sebastien Haller came on to drive in their second.

Breel Embolo pulled a goal back for Schalke before Naldo hammered home from a speculative long ball to the delight of the travelling fans to keep his team second.

– Dortmund snatch win –
Teenager Christian Pulisic, voted US Soccer’s Male Player of the Year for 2017 on Thursday, capped a great week by firing Borussia Dortmund up to third with the winning goal in a 2-1 home victory against Hoffenheim.

Pulisic’s 89th-minute strike ended Dortmund’s miserable run of seven games without a win at Signal Iduna Park dating back to September.

Hoffenheim took the lead when they attacked down the right and Mark Uth tucked away his ninth goal of the season in the first half.

Dortmund got back on level terms when Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa was fouled in the area and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang drilled home the resulting penalty on 63 minutes for his 13th league goal of the season.

Pulisic then benefited from some great work in attack by the outstanding Kagawa to tap home just before the final whistle.

The win was Dortmund’s second in a row under new coach Peter Stoeger, who replaced Peter Bosz last Sunday, while Hoffenheim dropped to seventh.

There was more drama at mid-table Augsburg as Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason scored twice in injury-time to claim a hat-trick and grab a 3-3 draw against Freiburg.

Finnbogason’s treble overshadowed ex-Bayern striker Nils Petersen, who scored twice for Freiburg to make it six goals in his last three games.

Not to be outdone, strugglers Mainz also came from two down at Werder Bremen to poach a point in a 2-2 draw thanks to goals by Sweden international Robin Quaison and Swiss Fabian Frei, who equalised in the 93rd minute.

Bottom side Cologne finally picked up their first win of the season, 1-0 over Wolfsburg, thanks to Christian Clemens’ second-half winner, but remain 11 points from safety.

AFP

Berlin State Poll: Losses For Merkel’s CDU, Gains For AFD

MerkelThe Political Party of Germany Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the CDU, has suffered historic losses in Berlin state elections.

It has been ousted from the state governing coalition with the centre-left social democrats.

Meanwhile the right-wing anti-migrant party alternative for Germany (AFD) made gains and will enter the state parliament for the first time.

Mrs Merkel’s popularity has waned since her decision in 2015 to allow more than a million migrants into Germany.

The CDU won 17.6% of the vote – its worst-ever result in Berlin.

It is the party’s second electoral blow in two weeks, having been pushed into third place by the AFD at the beginning of the month.

“There is no question, we didn’t get a good result in Berlin today,” said Michael Grosse-Broemer, a senior CDU politician. However, he blamed his party’s historic losses in Berlin primarily on local issues.

“I think it is dangerous to transfer the Berlin result to the federal level,” he told broadcaster ZDF.

The AfD has campaigned heavily on the migrant issue, playing to voters’ fears about the integration of the roughly 1 million migrants who entered Germany in 2015.

“From zero to double digits, that’s unique for Berlin. The grand coalition has been voted out – not yet at the federal level, but that will happen next year,” said AfD candidate Georg Pazderski to cheering supporters after the results.

 

Cologne Attacks: Merkel Considers Migrant Laws

Angela Merkel on Cologne AttacksGerman Chancellor, Angela Merkel, says she will consider changes to make it easier to deport migrants, who commit crimes after sex attacks on women in Cologne.

The attacks on New Year’s eve, which shocked the country, has sparked a debate about Germany’s open-door policy on migrants.

The police handling of the events has also been sharply criticised resulting to the head of the city police force’s suspension from his duties.

Under current German laws, asylum seekers are only forcibly sent back if they have been sentenced to at least three years, providing their lives are not at risk in their countries of origin.

The BBC reported that German officials had warned that anti-immigrant groups have been trying to use the attacks to stir up hatred.

Similar attacks to those seen in Cologne were also reported in Hamburg and in Stuttgart on New Year’s Eve.

As the investigation into the Cologne attacks continues, federal authorities said that they have identified 18 asylum-seekers among 31 suspects. But they were suspected of theft and violence, but not sexual assault.

The suspects include nine Algerians, eight Moroccans, four Syrians, five Iranians, two Germans and one each from the US.