Marko Pesic on the Coronavirus pandemic and FCBB

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Marko Pesic, 43, has been part of the FCBB team since the 2011/12 season. He took over as CEO of the EuroLeague side in 2013. In a Q&A, the former Germany international speaks about... 

. . . life without basketball:

"I think it's the same for me as it is for everyone else: when, all of a sudden, it's not possible for you to do something that you normally do, that's when you realise just how important it is.

Basketball is my life and all of us are currently realising what we're missing and how strange that it. There's no upcoming game that everyone from the players, the coaches, the staff, our office or the fans are preparing for. No wins to celebrate. No trying to come to grips with a defeat. And especially none of the electrifying atmosphere in the Audi Dome. All of a sudden, everything is quiet. That atmosphere in particular is missing, especially our fans who always give their all and who have experienced so much over the last years; who have brought us to where we are now. To be honest, I have more than enough to do but I'm in withdrawal. But, we can't change it. We accept that there are things that are much more important than basketball. People need to stick together and get through this together. Health is the number one priority." 

. . . the financial impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on FC Bayern Basketball: 

"Every team in the Basketball Bundesliga and the EuroLeague are facing enormous challenges. The financial impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic are also having a massive impact on us. In terms of ticketing revenue alone we're looking at a seven-figure loss in revenue for this season, without including the BBL playoffs. We're unable to say for sure how other areas may be affected. We're hoping to be able to use the strong connections we've built with our community. Right now, it's about determining our financial situation in order to ensure our future." 

. . . why FCBB made the decision to furlough employees under the government's 'Kurzarbeit' scheme: 

"We feel well-supported by the club's steering committee, which is led by Herbert Hainer. One thing that may not be well-known is that we have been more or less self-sufficient for almost a decade now and thus carry the chief responsibility for our finances. As it is well known, there was a spin-off of FCBB’s commercial business from the non-profit ‘FC Bayern München eV’ registered association into the limited company ‘FC Bayern Basketball GmbH’ in 2014. We may still be a part of FC Bayern, but we are also an independent company, which is responsible for its own sporting and commercial success. After analysing the situation, we made the decision to furlough our employees using the 'Kurzarbeit' scheme. Our task is to secure not only our financial and sporting foundation, but also jobs. We have nearly 50 employees working in our office. We're obligated to act responsibly.”

. . . on players and team employees waiving their salaries:

"We would like to thank the team, who have made a valuable contribution by waiving 30 percent of their salary. It gives us a chance of taking on this huge financial challenge ahead and also means we can compensate for any lost wages for our staff through the furloughing scheme. We would also like to thank our employees, including the managing board, who demonstrated collective solidarity and an understanding for the situation from the beginning. Everyone sees that it’s about pulling together. We hope that our fans and partners support this approach.”

. . . potential refunds for tickets:

"First, we would like to say thank you for the patience our fans have shown over the last weeks. This basic understanding of the fact that many questions remain open and unanswered cannot be taken for granted. At the moment, both the BBL and the EuroLeague seasons remain suspended and have not been cancelled. As a result, all tickets remain valid."

. . . the possibility for fans to waive their right to a refund and to offer those funds to FCBB in order to support various social projects: 

"Several fans have approached us over the past weeks asking if they could waive their right to a refund. That's why we would like to give all those who are season and day ticket holders the following offer: in the unfortunate event that all remaining home games this season will be played behind closed doors because the current situation does not allow for it - if that is the case - then our fans can already commit to waiving their right to a refund and can instead donate that money to various social initiatives. We are committing to donating 25 per cent of the net amount from each ticket to chartitable causes. We will also make sure to say a special 'thank you' to those fans who take part. We will be releasing more information about this next week.

If it's possible to play in front of our fans at home in 2019/20, then nothing will change. We will then donate 25 per cent from the daily ticketing revenue." 

. . . where the money will be donated to:  

"We will divy up the total amount. Half will go to the Ambulante Kinderhospiz München. This organisation offers support to terminally ill youth and children, as well as their families. They do incredible work, and we have been supporting AKM since 2015 through the "Dunk Dein Pfand' initiative at our home games. That form of support is currently not possible. 

The other half will go to the 'München Klinik' network. It encompasses five hospitals in Munich: Bogenhausen, Harlaching, Neuperlach, Schwabing and the Klinik Thalkirchner Straße. We will be supporting the healthcare workers at the hospitals, those hundreds of 'everyday heroes,' if you will. We're focusing on their break rooms, as well as psychosocial support, continued education as well as shuttle services and breakfast baskets. We are also in touch with various children's home, with the help of the city of Munich, but the large part of this money will go to the AKM and the healthcare workers at the München Klinik."  

. . . why the team is choosing to donate money despite the tense financial situation: 

"During our visit to the Munich food bank, I had mentioned that - even in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic - that this wouldn't be our only charitable initiative. These campaigns are a key part of our identity. At the same time, everyone is well aware that now is not the time to prioritize your personal interests.  

Yes, the effects of the pandemic have dealt us as a basketball club a financial blow, the same way it has for several hundreds of other businesses, organisations, establishments, clubs and for all people. A hefty blow, at that. But, what's more important at the moment is our health and showing solidarity. Solidarity is not a one-way street. We can't expect others to show us solidarity if we don't do our part. That's why, despite the uncertainty of the situation, we want to do our part by contributing in this manner. 

We will also be reaching out to our community and offering any help we can, for example, through the expertise available in our office or through our reach and network." 

. . . the possibility that the league resumes in May or June:

"We've remained in close contact with the BBL and the EuroLeague. In particular, the BBL has done a great job, and the various clubs have reacted well while keeping a level head. The vast majority were in favour of suspending the season, instead of cancelling it. 

It remains clear that health comes first, nothing else. The majority of the clubs also supports the league's decision to not cancel the season prematurely if there is no need to. The potential financial consequences of doing so brought on by potential demands from the TV partners and sponsors were compelling arguments.  

Playing behind closed doors would not allow us to have that electrifying atmosphere in the arena that we're all missing at the moment. But, it would allow us to play, to get results and would also guarantee some emotional moments. That's also true for the fans, who have been missing the distraction and joy that sports bring. Additionally, playing behind closed doors would increase the club's chances of surviving. After all, the TV ratings would likely be high and the sponsors could advertise themselves. 

At the moment, in mid-April, we still have a chance of playing in May or in June. If that will happen will be up to the politicians and experts to decide. We need to trust in them and and I think that, given the way they've handled the crisis so far, that our trust in them is not misplaced." 

. . . the challenges of planning for the future: 

"Our main focus is on whether our tenth BBL season, and our tenth season in the Audi Dome, will take place, regardless of when. We have already survived several tough times, both financially and on the court. In the not so distant past, we lost several important matches. Two years ago, we were 2-1 down in the quarterfinal series and needed a win on the road to survive. Setbacks have always made us stronger. A situation like this is a opportunity for all of us. Of course, none of us have been faced with a situation like the one facing us currently. 

It's also clear that we haven't put all our plans on hold, although they are very vague and undetermined at the moment. We cannot hold any trade talks at the moment. We need to wait and see how severely we will be impacted. It's obvious that when we leave this crisis, our position will not be the same as it was when all this began." 

. . . the situation amongst the players and coaches: 

"I'm going to knock on wood, but at the moment they're all doing well and they are all healthy. We've only been training individually for that last weeks. But, from what I hear the boys are still in good form, despite not taking part in rigorous training like usual. It would be great if we could put them to the test sometime soon to see the effect it's had. The best would be with some five-on-five." 

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