Dreesen: ‘We’ll continue to do our homework’
2020 has been a challenging year for FC Bayern with the coronavirus pandemic, but the club has overcome everything to win the second treble in its history. It means the bar for the coming months is high. Going into 2021, leading figures at Germany's record champions spoke to club magazine "51" about what's to come. In the third of seven parts, we sat down with club vice-chairman and finance director Jan-Christian Dreesen.
Interview with Jan-Christian Dreesen
**Herr Dreesen, do the fans need to worry about FC Bayern from an economic point of view because of this pandemic?
Dreesen:"FC Bayern has been very well managed for decades. I have been saying this for the last eight annual general meetings, and it's paying off especially well in this pandemic. FC Bayern has always been about maximum sporting success, but with economic solidity. Even in this pandemic, we still made a profit of €9.8 million after tax, also thanks to our sporting success. We've never been concerned about earning the maximum amount, but always about budgeting sensibly. We invest most of what we earn as a result into our core business of professional football, without becoming overconfident. There was often something left over, which we put aside. That's helping us now. It's an old-fashioned saying but an ultra-modern one: Waste not, want not! Of course, coronavirus has ruined our balance sheets, also in the current season. Our last home game with spectators was on 8 March, meaning we're at risk of a loss in revenue of hundreds of millions if we have to keep playing behind closed doors for much longer. Without this pandemic, 2020 would've been a fantastic year both in a sporting and economic sense. Without doubt we would've set records. As a result, we didn't set any. But we have a very, very good equity ratio which we've been able to increase year on year. So, I'm personally worried about this pandemic, just like everyone else. But not about FC Bayern."
Economist Paul Krugman said that "debt is irrelevant"...
"Paul Krugman is a very clever person and a Nobel Prize winner for a reason. But he was talking about government debt, where things are different. Companies usually incur debt when they want to make higher-level investments. In doing so, they pursue a goal and accept debt. At FC Bayern, we want to remain in the black because we are investing, but aren't planning any major projects at the moment. We look carefully at how we spend our money and have cancelled one or two investments because of coronavirus. The black zero is an expression of our economic actions and our basic attitude, but is not set in stone. The important question is can we afford to make a loss? The answer is yes, because we have been so well managed for a very long time. Can we afford to do that on an ongoing basis? No. No company can. In general, however, the black zero is not a dogma for us."
Does football now urgently need to find new ways to finance itself?
"FC Bayern, like every professional club, is essentially financed by four revenue pillars: match operations, sponsorship, merchandising and TV money. TV money is decreasing but the good news is that two other pillars at FC Bayern are incredibly strong supports. While the spectator revenue/match operations pillar is suffering massively, we're still in the best position regarding merchandising and sponsorship. If you talk about growth in general in times of coronavirus, times of extreme losses, that's relatively presumptuous in my eyes. It's always important to creatively look forward, and we'll continue to do our homework."
In the second part of our "Big questions" series, we spoke to president Herbert Hainer: