Beyond Bayern

Beyond Bayern is a new category at Red Robbery. Here I will share my thoughts on random football topics, focusing on but not exclusively about the Bundesliga.

Hopping off too early?

Many didn’t understand why Hoffenheim, a team led by local billionaire Dietmar Hopp, sold one of their most important players, Luiz Gustavo, during the season. The reason is simple: Hopp wants the club to be independent as soon as possible.

He has already invested more than €200m to turn the third-tier club into a highly modern and professional Bundesliga team. Now Hopp says all he ever wanted Hoffenheim to be is what the club is at the moment: a mediocre Bundesliga side that, with a bit of luck, can battle for the Europa League qualification spots. The founder of SAP says he respects the UEFA’s financial fair play system that is about to be introduced. Still, the question is: does he stop the financial support too early?

It’s a well-known fact that the money you earn in the European tournaments is an important part of any club’s (potential) income. So why didn’t Hopp continue to give financial aid? Instead of letting the people with the high salaries go (Gustavo, Carlos Eduardo), he could’ve added more players of that caliber to make Hoffenheim a team that can always compete for the Europa League, maybe even the Champions League, spots. Sure, that would’ve meant that Hopp has to invest even more money but on the other hand would the yearly UEFA payments have helped to secure the club’s long-term financial independence. Considering the current situation, it’s gonna be a long way to that independence. A decision Dietmar Hopp will regret?

The dictator in a democracy – a failed experiment

Schalke is a special club. No, I’m not talking about the debts or the spectacular arena now. What I’m talking about are the fans. Schalke’s fans always want to have the greatest say. If they don’t like a player’s personality, they’ll let him and the coach know and most of the times it’s that player’s last season at Schalke. They want the whole club to be a big blue-collar family just like Gelsenkirchen is. So what’s the worst thing that can happen to the fans? One outsider who wants to be responsible for everything, in other words: Felix Magath.

The signing itself was, in my opinion, a huge mistake. Going for the expensive solution doesn’t seem to be the smartest idea when your club is debt-ridden. Making that person pretty much the only one responsible for the squad doesn’t, either. Signing him mainly because of his success with a rich club where no media or fan pressure whatsoever exists sounds like a bad joke. But Schalke did exactly that.

At first, they seemed to have proven me wrong. A successful first season led to direct CL qualification and the big bucks. The risk seemed to pay off, Magath seemed to have a plan. Don’t cut the expenses, instead increase your income with success. But then it happened: the ‘dictator’ decided to get rid of the team’s key players, obviously not aware of their importance to the recent success, and many fans started to become nervous. When the unavoidable happened and the new team struggled dramatically, it was enough. Right in front of their eyes they could watch a single person possible destroy their club, a huge part of their lives.

Since then things have become better. The threat of relegation is out of sight, the cup final is reached and, as a bonus you might wanna say, there’s still Champions League football being played in Gelsenkirchen from time to time. At a normal club, the fans would be calmed down now. But not at Schalke: they are not blinded anymore by the recent results. Magath’s desperate PR attempts such as creating a Facebook account haven’t helped (thankfully, that really would’ve been too easy). Granted, there are still fans who believe in Magath. But more and more people want the dictator to be gone. They apparently won that battle: It is reported that Magath has to leave at the end of the season. Many Schalke fans now want some of their legendary and beloved Eurofighters (the nickname of the UEFA Cup-winning Schalke team of ’97) to take over. Because they know, love and bleed Schalke. Because they are willed to listen to the fans. Because they would restore the democracy.

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