Borussia Mönchengladbach managing director Stephan Schippers and sporting director Max Eberl spoke to the press in a virtual press conference on Monday about the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on the club and the Bundesliga’s restart.
Sporting director Max Eberl on…
…the Bundesliga restart: We’re pleased that the politicians gave the Bundesliga the green light to resume. It’s not the going to be the way we know it, but we will embrace this challenge. The boys have been back in team training since last week after a long time spent only training in small groups. The latest tests all came back negative. The team will be moving into their quarantine hotel today as we begin preparing for Saturday’s game in Frankfurt.
…how players have dealt with the pandemic: The team have always been well informed about the necessary measures. They have paid really close attention to their hygiene and maintaining the necessary distance over recent weeks and will continue to do so. If a player feels unsafe for themselves or their family, they’re more than welcome to stay at home. No one here is being forced to do anything; everyone is happy to train and play.
…the daily routine in the quarantine hotel: The team have a floor to themselves in the H-Hotel next to the stadium. We can follow all of the safety measures in the DFL’s concept there without any problems. Every player has a room of their own and mealtimes will be in small groups. There’s no necessity for a bus journey, which can carry a certain amount of risk, as we have the best conditions possible here to prepare while maintaining the necessary distance.
…the team’s condition: We’ve only been training in small groups recently, but now everyone is back on the one pitch making tackles and the like. It will certainly take some time to readjust, but every club is in the same boat.
…resuming the Bundesliga season: We’re hopeful that we will be able to play the remaining nine matchdays in the next six weeks, but no one knows for sure if it will happen. We’ll have to see how things develop. We’re well prepared, but we’re still in the middle of a pandemic after all. A certain amount of risk remains, but we’re doing all we can to minimise it.
…communication with the local health authorities: We’re in close communication with the Mönchengladbach health office, as we should be. There is a concept from the DFL, but it’s here that we have to implement and live it. Dynamo Dresden’s whole team going into quarantine on the weekend surprised me somewhat, but every health office can make their own decision. Even if restrictions are being relaxed across Germany, we need to be even more cautious and careful.
…the injury to Denis Zakaria: Denis’ operation went well and he’s already walking on crutches. We’re not sure how long he’ll be out for, but we’re hoping he might be back in four to six weeks. Fortunately, everyone but Denis is currently available. We’ve also got a few lads from the U19s and U23s training with us to help compensate for any possible injuries.
…matches behind closed doors: Games without fans remove that influence from the stands, whether it be positive or negative; it’s all down to the players. It will be interesting to see which sides deal with it best and perhaps even benefit from it.
...the possibility of having five substitutions per game: It certainly makes sense to have five substitutions to ease the strain. I would certainly welcome it if it you weren’t allowed to bring five players on individually to waste time. I think it’s good if we do implement the system where you still only have three opportunities to make substitutions.
Managing director Stephan Schippers on…
…financial losses as a result of the pandemic: We’re allowed to play football again, which is important as we’re already between €10 million and €13 million out of pocket for this season. If the remaining games didn’t take place, the TV money would disappear too, which would result in a much higher loss.
…the effects of the crisis: It’s a heavy financial burden for Borussia, but it doesn’t threaten our existence. We have done good business for a number of years now and have created an infrastructure at BORUSSIA-PARK which gives us stability and security. Borussia Mönchengladbach is healthy, but not rich. We will get through this crisis, but we’ll only know the full extent of the cost somewhere down the line.
…matches behind closed doors: Nobody wanted to play without fans, but these games are financially important. Many of our fans have already shown solidarity with that fact, so I’m confident that there won’t be any organised gatherings at the stadium during our home games. The 12,000 fan cut-outs in BORUSSIA-PARK are a signal to the team that they’re not alone and that the supporters are behind them.
…refunding tickets: It obviously helps the club a lot if fans forgo a refund on their tickets and we’re extremely thankful to every fan that is willing to do that. Nevertheless, every single fan has the right to a refund on their ticket and we fully understand that. Around 60 percent of the matchday tickets for the Köln game have been refunded so far – we’ve needed around three weeks to do that. Now that it’s official that the remaining games will take place without fans, we will begin a process for the other tickets from Tuesday. We will then deal with our season-ticket holders at a later date to inform them of the process involved there.
…the search for a new main sponsor: Many companies are of course feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, we’re in good talks regarding our search for a new main sponsor. I’m positive that we won’t end up with a blank shirt next season.