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Bundesliga big four pledge financial aid for rivals, Leeds players defer wages

Bundesliga big four pledge financial aid for rivals, Leeds players defer wages

FOOTBALL: Four of Germany’s biggest football clubs have pledged 20 million euros (716 million baht) to help Bundesliga rivals facing financial difficulty in the coronavirus crisis, the German Football League (DFL) announced yesterday (Mar 26).

Football
By AFP

Friday 27 March 2020, 03:15PM


‘Solidarity not an empty word’ says German league boss Christian Seifert. Photo: AFP

‘Solidarity not an empty word’ says German league boss Christian Seifert. Photo: AFP

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig - all of whom qualified for this season’s Champions League - said they would make the funds available for crisis-hit clubs in the top two German divisions, which are run by the DFL.

“This decision underlines the fact that solidarity is not an empty word in the Bundesliga,” said DFL president Christian Seifert.

“The DFL is very grateful to the four Champions League participants.”

The four clubs will forego 12.5 million euros of their remaining share of next season’s TV rights revenues, and add a further 7.5 million euros from their own reserves.

The DFL itself will be responsible for deciding how the money is distributed among clubs in the top two divisions.

“In these difficult times, it is important that the stronger shoulders support the weaker shoulders. We want to show that football stands together,” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in a statement.

“We always said that we wanted to show solidarity when clubs fall into difficulty due to this extraordinary situation and through no fault of their own,” said his Dortmund counterpart Hans-Joachim Watzke.

The Dortmund CEO had previously caused outrage by arguing that clubs who had made “financial and sporting mistakes” in recent years should not be bailed out by richer rivals.

In a country where few clubs are financed by billionaire investors, many Bundesliga stalwarts are concerned for their futures in the crisis.

Players at relegation-threatened Werder Bremen have offered to forego wages in order to ease the financial burden on the club, while Schalke’s head of marketing Alexander Jobst has said that “the existence of the club” is at stake.

With the league suspended until at least the end of April, most clubs are hoping that the season can be played out behind closed doors in the summer to avoid severe losses in TV revenues.

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Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness warned yesterday that if no games were held before the end of the year, “the league’s entire basis of existence will be threatened”.

“Right now, solidarity needs to be lived, not just talked about,” Hoeness told Kicker magazine.

Leeds players and coaches defer wages to save other staff

Meanwhile, in England, Leeds United’s players and coaches, including Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa, have agreed to defer their wages “for the foreseeable future” to ensure all non-football staff at the club can be paid.

Leeds were on the brink of ending a 16-year wait to return to the lucrative Premier League before football was suspended across England until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The club said the lack of income would cost “several million pounds each month”.

“Leeds United can confirm that the players, coaching staff and senior management team have volunteered to take a wage deferral for the foreseeable future to ensure that all non-football staff at Elland Road and Thorp Arch (training ground) can be paid and the integrity of the business can be maintained during these uncertain times,” Leeds said in a statement.

“It is important that we all work together to find a way that the club can push through this period and end the season in the way we all hope we can,” the statement added.

Director of football Victor Orta praised the players’ show of unity for the rest of the club’s employees.

“My players have demonstrated an incredible sense of unity and togetherness and I am proud of their actions,” said Orta. “To Marcelo and his staff and all of the players, we thank them for putting our wider team first.”

Leeds lead the Championship by a point from West Brom, but have a seven-point advantage over third-placed Fulham in the race to secure the two automatic promotion places.

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