Germany prepares for return of football


In developing a plan, the Bundesliga estimates that 240 people, including players, coaches and medical staff, match officials and production staff, will be required for each match. Two groups were formed to deal with the practical aspects of the staging of the game: one to establish uniform rules on match day and the other, perhaps more important, to develop a hygiene plan for the training and games and to determine what action to take if a player tests positive.

“The concept is to give certainty to the players, their families and society as well,” said Seifert.

The desire to return to the field is as much a financial as an emotional necessity.

Although its clubs are among the healthiest in Europe, not to finish the season would come at a huge cost. Seifert estimated the figure at 750 million euros, or about 816.5 million dollars, a figure that compares to forecasts of a billion euros in losses in the Spanish first division, La Liga, and a at least £ 1 billion, or about $ 1.24 billion, for the Premier League.

“At the moment we are all fighting to survive,” said Seifert, predicting that 50% of second division teams were “very much in danger of going bankrupt” if the season was canceled, while up to five of best – division teams would also face serious problems.

High-level teams will certainly lose almost 100 million euros due to the absence of supporters, while the last installment of 300 million euros has not yet been paid by the holders of national rights, including the most important is Sky owned by Comcast.

“We are in very constructive talks with all of our partners, whether it be pay TV or free TV,” said Seifert, acknowledging that the crisis has hurt the bottom lines of TV companies as much as the football industry. He predicted a possible shortfall, which includes the possibility of taking out a nine-digit bridging loan from private equity firms like KKR and Apollo Global Management, which have started talks. Seifert said he had hired an international bank to respond to these inquiries.

German clubs, for the most part, did not attract big-income investors in the same way as the Premier League, where foreign billionaires and oil-rich sheikhs poured money into the clubs. This is largely due to a model that prevents business interests from owning more than 49% of a club. The crisis has led to the suggestion that the rule – which is fiercely defended by fans but which has long frustrated some club directors – could finally be lifted. Seifert denied that this was the case. “As long as I am C.E.O. from Bundesliga, no one would discuss the 50 + 1 rule in the middle of the coronavirus,” he said.


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