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Report: BMW close to replacing Audi as Bayern Munich sponsor

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Looks like Uli Hoeness has been convinced. At Bayern, that’s usually all you need - but Audi might not have any intention of making it a clean switch.

FC Bayern Muenchen New Car Handover Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images For AUDI

Bayern Munich might be on the verge of a deal that would make the name of this blog rather more fitting than it is today. Fans must have always wondered why the Munich-based club are sponsored by Ingolstadt residents Audi, when there’s a perfectly fine multinational car company sitting right on their doorstep. Well, apparently BMW thought the same, and they’ve convinced Bayern Munich chairman Uli Hoeness to make the switch.

Let’s recap

In case you don’t know much about Bayern Munich’s ownership structure or corporate sponsorship or about the German car industry in general, here’s a handy cliff-notes version of the situation [from Bild via TZ]:

  • Audi is a German luxury automaker, one of the big three alongside BMW and Mercedes. Audi is also a partial owner of the club with an 8.33% of the total club shares. They are also owned by Volkswagen, who are currently still dealing with the fallout of the VW emissions scandal.
  • Audi pays Bayern Munich 30m euros a year as a “car sponsor”. Many FCB players are known to drive Audis in their daily lives. Several high ranking former-executives of VW and Audi are still on the Bayern board.
  • BMW, who are based in Munich, want to get into the sports sponsorship game, and sponsoring a Munich based club would be good for them, as was reported here. They have reportedly convinced Uli Hoeness to make the switch.
  • Audi tried to make a counter offer by doubling their current sponsorship to 60m. Current Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess reportedly managed to convince Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to take the improved deal, but Uli seems to have already convinced the Bayern supervisory board to make the switch.

That’s all we know for now. What does it all mean? Well, presumably, Bayern Munich will have a new car sponsor in the near future. It does make a lot of sense, especially since BMW is a Bavarian company — just like Adidas and Allianz, Bayern’s two other shareholders, and being associated with the VW brand isn’t good thing these days, in the wake of the emissions scandal. However, the parts that we don’t know make it all interesting.

How much will BMW pay?

We don’t know, but it’s more than the 30m Audi currently pays. In addition, as reported previously, they would need to pay over 100m to acquire Audi’s stake in the club. It would technically be a profit for Audi, since they purchased the shares several years ago for just 90m, but it’s not that simple.

Why would Audi want to give up a shiny exclusive sponsorship deal with Germany’s biggest club? Their contract runs till 2025, and they could decide to dig in and refuse to leave until then. If that happens, then Bayern stands to lose 30m of potential revenue every year if they don’t take the current deal that VW has put on the table. We might be talking about a 150m euro decision here.

We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.