In 2002, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was appointed Chairman of Executive Board of the newly corporatized football department of the club he had spent ten years playing for. His new CEO appointment didn’t come out of the blue, as he had been Bayern’s vice-president for eleven years prior.
His new role came with responsibilities surrounding external relations, new media, board affairs and representing the holding company on national and international bodies. While talking to European Business, Rummenigge shares information about how he and Bayern have tackled a world that has become increasingly more digital:
I think we are known for the fact that we have invested heavily in digital development in the past few years. We are very lucky to have one of the leading experts for all things digital in the person of Stefan Mennerich. Digital developments are crucial to the future of the club in areas such as fan marketing and merchandising. That is why the subject has the full attention and support of the board.
The subject of whether Bayern will become involved with eSports was also brought up during the interview. According to Business Insider, eSports will bring in more than $1 billion in revenue worldwide during 2019 as well as increasing by 15 % in viewership. Plenty of football teams have started to become involved within this emerging market but both Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Ulli Hoeneß remain skeptical. Rummenigge elaborated on the subject by saying:
I think that the main question to be answered when it comes to e-Sports is whether it is a useful exercise? Many of the big clubs have taken the leap. For me, it is important to know that it will bring a tangible benefit for FC Bayern and be profitable. FC Bayern doesn’t do things just to follow the crowd. I think you have to be clear that e-Sports has very little in common with ordinary football.
Hoeneß has previously stated he believes that young people are supposed to do sports on the training ground before recently admitting that he is open to Bayern to become involved within the world of eSports. It sounds like while both of the Bayern honchos are somewhat baffled by the recent trend of the younger generation, they won’t disregard it as a possible entry as there is clearly profits to be made.
Bayern is as of 2019 the fourth richest club in world football according to Business Insider. With revenue of €629.2 million, Rummenigge explains that this is a huge success compared to when he was appointed in 2002 when the turnover stood at €176 million. Bayern is therefore not only seen as a global brand or a corporate entity but an organization that plays an important role in the economy. While Rummenigge shrugs off any comparison with multi-billion companies such as Google or BMW, he does mention that Bayern Munich has become a medium-sized business as well-known as the companies previously mentioned.
The full interview with Rummenigge can be found here.