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The changing finances of football: Bayern Munich finance director Jan-Christian Dreesen opens up on 2020

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How did Bayern Munich survive 2020 financially? Smart decisions of the past paved the way.

Fortuna Duesseldorf v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

In an interview with Bayern Munich’s magazine “51”, finance director Jan-Christian Dreesen talked over that state of the club’s finances and the challenges of 2020.

When asked if fans should be worried about the state of the club, Dreesen credited years of financial intelligence for Bayern Munich’s ability to ward off major issues during 2020.

“FC Bayern has been very well managed for decades. I have been saying this for the last eight annual general meetings, and it’s paying off especially well in this pandemic,” said Dreesen in an excerpt that was posted on FCBayern.com. “FC Bayern has always been about maximum sporting success, but with economic solidity. Even in this pandemic, we still made a profit of €9.8 million after tax, also thanks to our sporting success. We’ve never been concerned about earning the maximum amount, but always about budgeting sensibly. We invest most of what we earn as a result into our core business of professional football, without becoming overconfident.”

How exactly did Bayern Munich set itself up to be prepared for something as devastating as the COVID-19 pandemic? Dreesen once again leaned on the smart financial decisions that the club made in past years.

“There was often something left over, which we put aside. That’s helping us now. It’s an old-fashioned saying but an ultra-modern one: Waste not, want not! Of course, coronavirus has ruined our balance sheets, also in the current season,” Dreesen said. “Our last home game with spectators was on March 8th, meaning we’re at risk of a loss in revenue of hundreds of millions if we have to keep playing behind closed doors for much longer. Without this pandemic, 2020 would’ve been a fantastic year both in a sporting and economic sense. Without doubt we would’ve set records. As a result, we didn’t set any. But we have a very, very good equity ratio which we’ve been able to increase year on year. So, I’m personally worried about this pandemic, just like everyone else. But not about FC Bayern.”

Interestingly, when asked if football needed to find a new or different way to finance itself, Dreesen indicated that there is a strong base of revenue sources, but that the club will always look for new, creative solutions.

“FC Bayern, like every professional club, is essentially financed by four revenue pillars: match operations, sponsorship, merchandising and TV money. TV money is decreasing but the good news is that two other pillars at FC Bayern are incredibly strong supports,” Dreesen said. “While the spectator revenue/match operations pillar is suffering massively, we’re still in the best position regarding merchandising and sponsorship. If you talk about growth in general in times of coronavirus, times of extreme losses, that’s relatively presumptuous in my eyes. It’s always important to creatively look forward, and we’ll continue to do our homework.”

The complete interview in “51” is available in German.