• Bayern declared ‘in the hands of a foreign government’ • Qatari sponsorship costs up to €350m a year in German clubs
Bayern Munich’s AGM was marred on Friday by strong criticism of “Qatari funding” and claims that Bayern had lost more than €40m in the last two years over a sponsorship deal with the Gulf state.
The chairman of Bayern’s supervisory board, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said the sponsorship deal had been beneficial for both sides, as it brought more fans to games. Rummenigge said Bayern were “not informed about [Qatar’s] activities in football”, though he added the clubs’ board of directors were aware of their close financial relationship and knew that “Qatar has a huge investment [in football]”.
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Rummenigge also confirmed that the decision not to open a full-scale investigation into the sponsorship deal had been taken by Bayern’s independent board of directors, adding that it would be expensive and that his own club did not want to intrude into politics.
The findings of Bayern’s lawyers were presented to the AGM on Friday, and Rummenigge stressed that they found no grounds for a damages claim, but that Bayern, the German league, and the clubs’ unions had been wrong to have taken legal action against Bayern. It was argued that Bayern had been given such an unfair reputation as a problem club – and that this had been fostered by the various legal action that had been taken against it.
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Bayern last year faced large legal claims from five German clubs relating to allegations of match-fixing. Rummenigge declined to comment on the outcome of the investigations, but confirmed that the legal expenses from the four legal action had already taken €24m out of Bayern’s 2014 revenues. The Bayern board did manage to avoid an election clash with the current league head, Reinhard Rauball, and the Bayern boss and finance chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge repeated his support for Rauball in his fight against the World Cup bidding process. Rummenigge said the legacy from the debacle had been football governing bodies panicking and making demands of the clubs in the hope that they will change the culture and make a profit. “We got 90% of what we asked for,” Rummenigge said of the failed bid. “It’s the rest that took forever.”
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge makes statement on Qatari sponsorship of Bayern Munich
The debate over Qatari sponsorship will go on. In May, Bayern said they would scale back their support for Qatar 2022’s Confederations Cup, which was also organised by the Qatar 2022 board. Bayern refused to set a date for the tournament. It was reported that negotiations with the Qatar 2022 board over whether Bayern would be able to accept the Confederations Cup were ongoing, but the initiative appeared to have stalled.