Bayern Munich underwent the footballing equivalent of a regime-change last season, but it looks like the former emperor still wants to hang onto power. While Karl Heinz Rummenigge seems content to give interviews and enjoy his retirement, former President Uli Hoeness still sits on the supervisory board and has enormous influence on the club. This, according to Felix Magath, is a big problem for the new front office.
“Manchester United have the same problem,” said the 68-year-old, who coached Bayern Munich from 2004 to 2007. “One man led the club and made it great over many years, so he will always be the contact person for many at the club. They are still in control even after their ‘official’ departure.” [via Sky90]
Perhaps giving some insight into the inner workings of Bayern Munich, Magath went on to describe the issue. “Hasan has a problem with that because he can never decide anything on his own. He has to discuss things with Hoeness beforehand when it comes to contracts. I’m not sure if Kahn can act freely either. I don’t know what the relationship is between Hoeness and Kahn, but as CEO he’s taken on a very difficult job.”
Magath didn’t just pull this out of thin air, because Bild reported on the same issue a few weeks before:
Oliver Kahn wants to be independent and doesn't want to let Uli Hoeneß interfere. Hoeneß is unhappy with how the new leadership presented itself in the latest AGM and is, unlike Kahn, against the idea of playoffs. Hoeneß wants Kahn to call and consult him more often [@cfbayern] pic.twitter.com/H94G92fYrx— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) February 15, 2022
The above report by Christian Falk mainly concerns internal disagreements at Bayern over playoffs, but it does end with this tidbit:
The people in charge at the Säbener Straße were very surprised and unhappy with Uli Hoeneß’ ‘attack’ on Kahn regarding the playoffs topic yesterday.
Of course, Uli being outspoken is nothing new. After decades of building Bayern Munich into a global powerhouse, he was never going to let go of the reigns so easily. Even being sent to prison never loosened his iron grip on Bayern Munich. In that sense, Magath’s comparison to Manchester United falls a little bit short — even Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t have the kind of transformative impact that Hoeness did on Bayern Munich.
The plight of the new front office is understandable, since no one wants a backseat driver, especially one that’s as outspoken as Uli Hoeness. While his input is doubtless still valuable, Hoeness didn’t always get things right. KHR spent years balancing him out at the executive level. Without that counterbalance, things could get messy in the backroom.
The current board doesn’t have an outsized personality like KHR to keep Hoeness in check, and that’s the problem. Maybe Kahn will become that kind of person one day, but until then, Bayern Munich will have to deal with its very own retired emperor on the sidelines.