When Uli Hoeneß saved BVB from total bankruptcy

Season 2004/05: BVB don’t know what else to do but ask Uli Hoeneß for help when he’s in need. And indeed: Bayern’s money saves Borussia from sinking – and then Aki Watzke comes and works for free!

Almost all the lights went out at Dortmund in the 2004/05 season. And what was particularly bad for diehard BVB fans in retrospect: the constant burning of money had pushed Borussia into the arms of FC Bayern. The people of Munich have helped BVB out of the deepest impasse with money. Uli Hoeneß recalls: “When Dortmund no longer knew what to do and could no longer pay their salaries, we gave them two million for a few months without security.”

Certainly an extremely embarrassing act for the BVB board. But what hardly anyone knows anymore: in the early 1980s, Borussia helped the struggling district clubs FC Schalke 04 and VfL Bochum financially when they were in need. BVB transferred 1.1 million marks to S04 for Rüdiger Abramczik for the 1980/81 season and thus saved Schalke’s license. Barely a year later, Jupp Tenhagen left VfL for Dortmund in tears. Former VfL president Ottokar Wüst recalled: “And then Reinhard Rauball said, ‘Send us Tenhagen and we’ll send you a million marks.’ Otherwise, we wouldn’t have existed the next day.”

“It’s dark in the basement, turn on the light!”

Several years later, the time of chairman Gerd Niebaum and manager Michael Meier finally came to an end at Dortmund. The liabilities increased every day by an incredible 72,000 euros. And on the sporting level, things were not going at all either in the first part of the season. After matchday 17, BVB were only 14 years old. A fan poster captures the mood in Dortmund best: “It’s dark in the basement, turn on the light!”

In Germany, people laughed at BVB. Comedian Michael Mittermeier quipped: “What do BVB and Karstadt have in common? Both are broke. But Karstadt has the better sports department.” Hans-Joachim Watzke has become Borussia’s new general manager. He worked full time at BVB, but earned nothing with it. According to his own statements, Watzke forfeited his entire salary because of his employer’s empty coffers. And that’s not all, he also paid out of pocket for all gas, telephone and overnight stays: “Right now, I take almost 2,000 euros with me every month!

“Is systematically driven out of the country”

Otherwise, it was the season of personalities. The season had yet to start when one of the Bundesliga’s big stars was already threatening to leave. Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn handed it over. According to him, the coverage of his private life has become “totally grotesque”. The newspaper “Bild” even asked: “Is Olli Kahn breaking up?”. Bavaria’s CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was angry and tried – appealing to national welfare – to have a de-escalating effect: “If things continue like this, he will be systematically kicked out of the country. Oliver Kahn “He’s a great fighter. But he’s just a human, with a sore spot. Slowly but surely, he, one of the few beacons of hope for the 2006 World Cup, is being driven out.” But Kahn stayed!

Another is gone. Reiner Calmund resigned in June: “I have always been at the forefront for 27 years, always on the alert, always in charge, whether in the youth, marketing or professional fields. This is how I lived for the club. I have to say now: I’m flat! I can’t give 100% anymore. I can’t bear this burden anymore. His conclusion after this long period as a as an employee of Bayer 04: “We started in the hutch of Haberland Stadium, we went from candidate for relegation to international player. Bayer was part of me. In terms of salary, I have always been in a relegation zone “When we won the trophy in 1993, I earned 150,000 marks. I also did jumps, but it ended at 350,000 euros. It’s less than number 20, but I’m so crazy. But I’ll also be financially secure in the future. I want to thank Bayer for that.”

“Okay, I weighed 150 pounds”

Ben Redelings is a ‘passionate chronicler of football madness’ and a supporter of glorious VfL Bochum. The best-selling author and comedian lives in the Ruhr area and keeps his legendary treasure chest of anecdotes. For ntv.de he writes the most exciting and funniest stories on Mondays and Saturdays. More information about Ben Redeling, his current dates and his current book (“60 years of the Bundesliga. The anniversary album”) can be found on his website www.scudetto.de.

And another one left and came back quickly. After seven years, Bixente Lizarazu left Bayern for Marseille this summer. Finally back in the permanently sunny south, finally living close to home again – everything seemed perfect. But after less than six months, Lizarazu was back on the pitch for Bayern. When things didn’t work out at Marseille, he remembered Uli Hoeneß’s promise that he was welcome to come back anytime. Old love never rusts. Now he was back home at Bayern Munich. Only his old jersey number, the 3, which they had already given to Lucio. Anyway, as Lizarazu explained: “Now I’m 69 because I was born in 1969, I’m 1.69 meters tall and I weigh 69 kilos. Ok, I was 69 kilos To be honest: it’s been several years ago.”

The quote of the season came from Leverkusen manager Klaus Augenthaler: “If a player can hold the ball ten times today, he’s done signing his first contract.” Oh, by the way, Bayern Munich became champions. 14 points ahead of FC Schalke 04 at the end of the 2004/05 season. The 31st day festivities in Kaiserslautern (Bayern’s 4-0 victory) took place without Oliver Kahn. The goalkeeper stayed in Munich and was replaced by Michael Rensing. After this season – especially private – so stressful for the national goalkeeper, a welcome break. After all, Oliver Kahn’s big end was yet to come!

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