Football: It's not all about the money, says Dortmund MD on Bundesliga restart

Five closed-door fixtures are scheduled for May 16, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - With millions of euros at stake in the Bundesliga restart on Saturday (May 16), Borussia Dortmund managing director Carsten Cramer accepts criticism that the move is financially motivated, but argues that resumption - under strict controls - is necessary in the larger scheme of things.

The German top-flight, which has been suspended since March 13 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, is set to become the first major European football league to kick off again this weekend. Five closed-door fixtures are scheduled for Saturday, with Dortmund the centrepiece of the action as they host Schalke in the Revierderby at the Westfalenstadion.

In a video conference call with global media on Wednesday, a candid Cramer said that the German public is split at 50-50 about the decision. He also revealed to The Straits Times the club are missing out on €3 million ($4.62m) in revenue for each of the remaining five home games that were postponed during this two-month suspension, and have not sought financial aid from the government.

He told ST: "Of course, it is an economic question to restart the Bundesliga. We have to be honest and it doesn't make sense to use arguments to hide the real argument.

"We are a business sector that has professional players and more than 60,000 people around the country who are directly or indirectly dependent on football.

"But I'm very sure that in time, people will be more excited about the football and be glad that some normal life is coming back."

Dortmund are pulling out all the stops to ensure a successful restart. Players have been tested four to five times now, once every three to four days, without any positive cases. The team checked into a hotel a week before kickoff, leaving the premises only for training. They have two full-time doctors and practise safe distancing even at meal times.

On matchday, only eight and four representatives from the respective home and away teams and 11 media personnel - all will have to wear masks - are allowed in the stadium.

And of course, the famous Yellow Wall - more than 80,000 Dortmund fans that form the Bundesliga's biggest home crowd - will be missing. Security and police staff will be present to ensure there are no public gatherings of more than three people outside the stadium.

Cramer said the club have had almost daily communication with their fans and he is confident they will respect the rules, unlike the Paris Saint-Germain fans who turned up outside the Parc des Princes when the French champions beat Dortmund in a closed-door Champions League game in March.

He added: "We never would prefer to play without spectators but in a crisis like this, without any alternative, goals behind the curtain are better than no games... Football and spectators is a fit you can never split and we will always miss the spectators, but this is not the time for wishes and dreams."

Citing factors like Euro 2021, which Cramer said cannot be postponed again, and player contracts, he said it was imperative for the Bundesliga restart to work so that the season can conclude by June 30.

He added: "I can't give you a 100 per cent guarantee that we will make it until the end. But I can promise you that we are very well prepared and that everyone is fighting 24-7 to finalise this project because we know if we fail, the problems after will be even bigger than before."

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