Germany's Champions League clubs top up solidarity fund
Germany’s four representatives in this season’s Uefa Champions League are contributing €20 million ($21.9 million) to a solidarity fund to relieve clubs in the country’s top two divisions struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga are presently suspended, but representatives of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen met last week to draw up a financial model, which has now been confirmed.
German newspaper Bild had reported that the DFL, the German football league, which organises the top-tier Bundesliga and second-tier 2. Bundesliga, is already moving to distribute €45 million from the proceeds of its current television rights deal that was put away in a reserve fund for possible strategic projects, including an OTT channel.
This money is set to be allocated to the clubs according to the distribution model for the 2020-21 season.
Moreover, the four Champions League clubs are foregoing the €12.5 million they were jointly entitled to from this season's centralised Uefa pot, plus a further €7.5 million they are offering from their own coffers.
The DFL presidium will be responsible for determining which clubs receive this money.
Bayern and Leipzig are still in the Champions League, but Dortmund went out to Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, and Leverkusen dropped into the Europa League after being eliminated in the group stage.
In a statement, Hans-Joachim Watzke, the chief executive of Dortmund, said: "We have always said that we will show solidarity if, through no fault of their own, this absolutely exceptional situation causes clubs to get into trouble they can no longer control on their own.
"BVB is currently working deeply in society through a variety of campaigns. And, of course, we are also ready to help in professional football when it comes to dealing with the economic consequences of the pandemic to some extent."
Christian Seifert, the DFL chief executive, has welcomed the contribution of the quartet, saying: "This campaign underlines that solidarity in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga is not lip service. The DFL presidium is very grateful to the four Champions League participants in terms of the community of all clubs."
As a result of the coronavirus, the top two divisions have been suspended since 8 March, and a resumption of play has been ruled out until at least 30 April, while the DFL has delayed its domestic media rights tender for the 2021-22 to 2024-25 seasons by a month, with no decisions to be made until June.
The top clubs have taken internal financial measures to address the crisis, with Bayern announcing this week that its players will take a temporary 20-per-cent pay cut, while Dortmund players are waiving a proportion of their salaries.
The pair said these decisions were taken to help other employees affected by the emergency.
Players at several other Bundesliga clubs have already agreed to wage cuts while there are no fixtures, while many top stars have launched their own campaigns or, like Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, made large donations to coronavirus charities.
Elsewhere, the RFEF, the Spanish soccer federation, has pledged to establish a €500-million financial aid package for needy clubs in the top-tier LaLiga and second-tier Segunda Division.
RFEF president Luis Rubiales said yesterday that the governing body was in negotiations with various banks to ensure loans for clubs in need of funding during the crisis.
He said: “I am sure that the three or four large Spanish banks will be happy to participate.”
It is envisaged that the clubs would be able to pay back the money over a period of up to five years, from the proceeds of TV rights deals.
Rubiales also announced a €4-million aid package for clubs in the lower-tier Segunda B and Tercera Divisions and the futsal leagues, which will take the form of interest-free loans that can repaid over the next two years.
He has also requested that the AFE, the Spanish players’ union, enters negotiations on new payment schedules for its members.