Schalke’s supervisory board chairman steps down: clemens tonnies looks resolutely into the camera with a blue-and-white scarf around his neck, spectators sit in the arena in the background.
The photo that the hard-hit FC schalke 04 published on tuesday to mark the involuntary farewell of the powerful chairman of the supervisory board came from better times – and missed the reality by a mile. Tonnies’ resignation followed massive protests from his own fans and the corona scandal at his meat company. The news also came in the middle of the discussion about a supposed state guarantee for the revierclub, which is in dire straits financially.
"We have successfully led FC schalke 04 through many crises with heart and soul and a high level of personal commitment," wrote tonnies in a letter of resignation obtained by the deutsche presse-agentur, "from which we have always emerged stronger than before."To achieve this again will be a herculean task – for the schalkers, who on tuesday elected the previous deputy chairman jens buchta as the new chairman of the supervisory board, and also for tonnies himself.
The corona outbreak at the tonnies meat plant in rheda-wiedenbruck had made negative headlines nationwide. He wanted to make his "contribution to reorganizing the german meat industry as a whole," wrote the entrepreneur, who had been a member of the club’s control committee since 1994 and had chaired it since 2001. Among the schalke supporters, however, tonnies was already highly controversial because of his comments about africa last year, which were interpreted as racist.
Only on saturday, parallel to the last game of the season at SC freiburg (0:4), about 1000 fans had demonstrated against the powerful schalke boss on the club’s ground. At the entrance to the old schalke gluckaufkampfbahn, a banner was recently emblazoned with the words: "no exploiters at S04 – tonnies out!"And on a bridge and on the construction fence of the old park stadium there were posters with identical demands for resignation. And: "no racists on schalke!"
Tonnies had repeatedly tried to explain his statements about africa at the time. In his letter of resignation, he affirmed: "those who know me know that this decision ‘as a schalke fan through and through’ was very difficult for me after so many years." A concept for the "future-oriented repositioning" of the club had also been "elaborated and written. And urgently needed.
After 16 games without a win, coach david wagner’s team finished the past season in twelfth place. Even before the corona crisis, liabilities had grown to almost 200 million euros. In order to secure its continued existence, the club is now said to have applied for a guarantee from the state of north rhine-westphalia to secure bank loans of up to 40 million euros. Neither NRW minister president armin laschet (CDU) nor the club itself wanted to confirm this. For it other made themselves proud.
"I don’t think that’s honorable, knowing full well that the public may feel differently," said borussia dortmund’s club boss hans-joachim watzke. "It is demanded of us as fubball-bundesliga that we pay the same taxes, that we pay them punctually – which is a matter of course. But if the federal government or the state or whoever decides to help corona-damaged companies, then the same rights obviously don’t apply to us. To say in principle that fubball clubs must be excluded from this, that does not correspond to my principle of equal treatment."
Nevertheless, the issue is politically explosive. "There is no decision in any burgschaft question," appeased laschet. According to the "westdeutsche allgemeine zeitung", however, there is already a positive decision in the castle committee of the state government. The planned burgschaft was first reported by the "handelsblatt" newspaper.
An immediately introduced question from the green parliamentary group was aimed, among other things, at ensuring that the taxpayer would end up having to pay for the loan default if the cash-strapped schalke people were no longer able to service the loan. In addition, it was also reminded of other low-class NRW clubs that had fallen into disrepute. "In this respect, the question of equal treatment or distortion of competition automatically arises if a single club is to be given the million-euro castle in question," write grunen deputies horst becker and josefine paul.
"There will be no lex schalke," laschet affirmed. There have also been NRW subsidies time and again in recent decades, including for schalke – for the arena construction, for example. However, the financial situation has not improved, on the contrary. The corona crisis alone is said to have resulted in a loss of 26.1 million euros. The hook on the burgschaft formulated watzke: "the country must naturally examine whether these are real corona effects or not."
The club was in financial difficulties long before the pandemic. Schalke is the first club to set its own limit on player salaries at 2.5 million euros a year. And a security that has been popular in the past will probably not be available for a long time: asking tonnies for a loan. Even though he wrote: "I will of course remain associated with FC schalke 04 for the rest of my life."