Jan-Christian Dreesen: Stay hungry, stick together and never give up
“A year ago, I said goodbye on this stage. I thanked you for 10 incredible years. Those were very emotional moments for me, which touched me a lot. They also contributed to me being back here in front of you again now – for the first time as CEO of FC Bayern,” said Jan-Christian Dreesen, CEO of FC Bayern Munich AG, opening his speech at the 2023 annual general assembly.
“We can only win the major honours when everyone sacrifices for each other and puts the club before themselves,” continued the 56-year-old in the Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle on Sunday morning, citing the ten-year anniversary of ‘Generation Wembley’ as an example. The treble-winning team of 2013 marked “the start of the most successful decade in our club’s history”, according to Dreesen, and is the subject of a six-part documentary series by the club.
Strong reaction to cup exit
That team can also serve as an example to the current Bayern side. Dreesen, who’s been in charge as CEO since May 2023, praised the recent performance in the crunch match against Borussia Dortmund, just a few days after being knocked out of the DFB Cup. “Coming back from a defeat like the one at Saarbrücken is a great quality and shows the strength of this club,” said the East Frisian. “Mia san mia is not a cliché; it's an attitude.”
Champion coaches Tuchel and Straus
This attitude could also been seen in the title run-in last season in both the men’s and women’s teams, who both won the Bundesliga title – the men after a thrilling finale in Cologne. “Congratulations again to our two champion coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Alexander Straus, and their teams,” congratulated Dreesen.
Dreesen welcomes Diederich and Freund
New to the FC Bayern family are chief financial officer Michael Diederich and sporting director Christoph Freund. Dreesen offered the pair a warm welcome and highlighted that Freund, together with academy director Jochen Sauer, will particularly look after the development of young players. “Aleksandar Pavlović and Frans Krätzig, whom we’ve just given professional contracts, are good examples of this.”
“I’d also like to thank my predecessor Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidžić for their work. They’ll always remain part of the Bayern family,” continued Dreesen, who also wished the best to summer departures Lucas Hernández, Ryan Gravenberch, Benjamin Pavard, Sadio Mané, Marcel Sabitzer, Yann Sommer and Daley Blind.
Kane ‘fits Bayern Munich DNA perfectly’
In return, he listed new signings Harry Kane, Minjae Kim, Daniel Peretz, Konrad Laimer and Raphaël Guerreiro to applause from the audience. On Peretz, he added: “These are difficult months for Daniel and his family. We’re by his side, just as we are by Israel’s side as a club.”
With one transfer last summer, the club “went all-in to a degree”. With Kane, who’s scored a brilliant 17 goals in 11 Bundesliga games, “the efforts were worth it… He's a real number nine, who fits the Bayern Munich DNA perfectly.” Dreesen added that they wanted to help him add some trophies to his career, and that “100 million signings won’t be the new norm”.
On the same day that Kane scored a stunning 50-metre goal against Darmstadt, Manuel Neuer returned in goal for Bayern after 350 days out with an injury. “The fish is back in water, Manuel is in goal. It’s that simple,” stated Dreesen. “While we owe a big thanks to Sven Ulreich for filling in for Manuel so ably, we’re delighted that our five-time World’s Best Goalkeeper is back on the pitch.”
The CEO’s wishes
The German record champions were back on international travels in 2022 and 2023 after the pandemic, with the Audi Summer Tour in the USA and Asia. On the much-discussed question of whether such trips are sensible for football clubs, Dreesen responded: “Yes! Because we want to showcase ourselves. And we don’t want to lose touch. Our competitions are the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the Champions League, but to remain at the top internationally we also need to be attractive to new markets abroad.”
He highlighted the 4,500 fan clubs, 360,000 fan club members as well as 80 percent international followers on FCB’s social media channels and set out his vision: “My wish is that every child in the world knows FC Bayern! We want to be approachable and real, we want to create genuine closeness and not just be on the tele.”
'Everyone must be prepared to break new ground'
At the same time, the CEO made an appeal to the entire Bundesliga: "FC Bayern is not an island! We are currently facing major challenges, also of an economic nature. Everyone must be prepared to break new ground, this is the only way the Bundesliga can remain internationally competitive." The summer tours are just one element of this, he said, and all clubs need to make themselves more visible. Dreesen cited the English Premier League as an example, which earns €2 billion – ten times as much as the Bundesliga – from marketing outside England. Despite this imbalance, FC Bayern is proud of its unique selling point: FCB is "the only one of the top clubs in Europe that is not owned by a state, a company or a super-rich person and is not burdened by a billion-euro debt."
Towards the end of his speech, Dreesen thanked Herbert Hainer and the rest of the supervisory board, Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, without him "there wouldn't be this FC Bayern", as well as the executive committee with vice presidents Professor Dr. Dieter Mayer and Walter Mennekes, his board colleagues Andreas Jung and Michael Diederich, and all the employees who do their best for the club every day.
The motto for the coming year
He then returned to the Generation Wembley, because the guiding principle of Dreesen's work is for each other and with each other. "We need trust, courage and honesty. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled by the successes of the past, because they are no guarantee of success in the future." The motto for next year: "Stay hungry, stick together and never give up."
President Herbert Hainer's speech: