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‘Trend and pacesetter’

Lifetime achievement award for Hoeneß

After Uli Hoeneß was elevated to club president with 99 percent backing from the club AGM in late November, Louis van Gaal’s team ran up no fewer than 12 consecutive victories. That run came to an end in Nuremberg on Saturday – and the superstitious might speculate that it had to do with Hoeneß’s absence from the easyCredit-Stadion on the afternoon in question.

Hoeneß missed a Bayern fixture “for the first time in 100 years”, he reported on Monday evening in a conference suite at the Munich exhibition centre. A knee problem resulting from a mild attack of gout caused the 58-year-old to call off his planned trip to Nuremberg. He watched the game on TV at home instead, and on Monday, was still a touch rueful about Saturday’s outcome. “We had enough clear-cut chances,” he said.

Citation delivered by Hainer

However, the former FCB general manager’s overwhelming emotion on Monday was pride and delight. At the ISPO SpoBIS 2010, Europe’s leading sports business congress, he was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Sponsors magazine. “Uli Hoeneß is the game’s trend and pacesetter,” declared Herbert Hainer, chairman of Bayern partner adidas and FCB supervisory board member, in his award citation.

In his acceptance speech, Hoeneß directed a non-nonsense appeal to the sports business managers in the audience. “It can’t just be all about growth, growth and more growth. We need to ensure our staff earn a living wage, enjoy their work and have what they need,” the FCB president stated: “Companies should ensure staff well-being before shareholders or owners drain any cash. Your share price doesn’t rate as good if you’re firing 10,000 people.”

Hoeneß sees FCB as champions

Despite the dropped points in Nuremberg, Hoeneß feels Bayern’s stock is good and getting better all the time. “I’m confident we’ll win the league. The timing of us going top of the table isn’t particularly important,” said Franz Beckenbauer’s successor at the club: “There’s no reason to panic, even though we’ve not been quite as spectacular recently. You can’t keep on shifting up a gear indefinitely.”

Hoeneß is also upbeat about Bayern’s chances of making the Champions League quarter-finals. “We won at home, so a draw would see us through. It’s not like we’re frightened about going to Florence.” However, Hoeneß does feel the return leg could play a key role in determining Franck Ribéry’s future.

“If we get through, play well, Franck has a decent game and comes away thinking there’s a perspective here, we have a reasonable chance of keeping him. If we lose 3-0, I think we’ll have no chance.” However, given his previous record, the ‘worst-case scenario’ seems distinctly unlikely, provided Hoeneß is watching from the stands.