‘Possibly the best-ever era for FC Bayern'
As you'd expect, it was the most senior official who opened proceedings at this year's FC Bayern München eV Annual General Meeting. Club president Karl Hopfner stepped up to the lectern on the dot of 7 pm and supervised a harmonious and highly positive evening at the Audi Dome. There were no elections nor gaudy show elements, but there were impressive financial results and excellent reports from the board directors and president, with nothing but upbeat news for the 2,590 members present. "For a few years now, we've experienced possibly the best-ever era in FC Bayern's 115-year history," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge declared to rousing applause.
Turnover for the 2014/15 fiscal year at €523.7 million fell just short of the record figure from the treble-winning season (€528.7 million), but the club still posted record after-tax profits of €23.8 million. "We're in an outstanding position," said FC Bayern München AG deputy chairman and finance director Jan-Christian Dreesen. Board directors Andreas Jung and Jörg Wacker have both extended their contracts through 2019, and a remarkable current membership roll of 270,329 means FC Bayern remain the world's biggest sports club. "We're as popular as ever," Hopfner noted.
The meeting covered a wide range of topics at the Audi Dome, home to FC Bayern Basketball. Rummenigge's hour-long speech on the eve of the home Bundesliga meeting with Hertha BSC naturally touched on footballing matters. "We're doing wonderfully well in all competitions," he remarked, "if you'd said to me a few years ago we'd be mentioned in the same breath as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid nowadays, I'd never have believed it!"
Praise for the newcomers
Bayern as a club have never been more appealing, Rummenigge continued. "The days of FC Hollywood are over -- and that's good. We make headlines out on the pitch now." And also with transfer coups such as those involving Kingsley Coman, Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa, who received special acclaim from the members. "He's surprised many people," the chairman said, "he has great quality. All our new faces have made us even stronger and fit in well with this team, a great team in any case."
Rummenigge drew a positive preliminary conclusion to the current season. In particular the cup match away to Wolfsburg in October stood out in his memory. "The first half was the best I have ever seen from an FC Bayern team. It was perfect," commented the 60-year-old. The chairman feels that displays like this mean FCB could perhaps win the Champions League in the coming year, "but we mustn't believe that anything short of the treble is no success anymore. We cannot let the media mislead us."
The fourth German championship title in a row continues to be the main goal. "It's the most honest title. It looks so easy, but it's incredibly difficult." The honorary captain stressed that success is not a matter of course. "We all have fond memories of the 2012/13 treble season. There were fantastic moments and of course it would be great if we succeeded once more. But we approach it in all modesty, with a degree of humility, and we'll take all the time we need. Then perhaps it might be possible again." Speaking of success, the numbers say that FC Bayern have been German champions every other year since their promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965. "An incredible record," said the chairman.
Schweinsteiger, Beckenbauer and TV revenue
There was plenty of applause for "Mister FC Bayern" Bastian Schweinsteiger at the Annual General Meeting. Rummenigge thanked him once more. There will be a farewell match for Schweinsteiger in Munich, because the player left as a "big friend," revealed the chairman: "Bastian will always be associated with the club," just like Franz Beckenbauer. Rummenigge added that the 'Kaiser' is not being treated fairly at the moment. "In all capacities he has achieved outstanding things for FC Bayern." Hopfner underlined that point: "Franz Beckenbauer is and will continue to be our honorary president by right."
The Bavarians have to catch up in terms of youth development, according to Rummenigge. The last few years "haven't been satisfying, but now I'm confident again. We're well-positioned." Uli Hoeneß has given the section "new impetus." Rummenigge voiced concerns about TV revenues. Premier League clubs in particular are massively better positioned. "It's a dramatic disadvantage," said Rummenigge, "the DFL has to make sure the German top clubs remain competitive among the elite teams in Europe." The chairman's concluding words: "We've created something big at FC Bayern in the last few years, and we won't give it up just like that."