In an interview with L’Equipe, as captured by @iMiaSanMia, Bayern Munich’s CEO Oliver Kahn discussed Bayern’s leadership model. It is one based around making sure legendary figures of the past, players that identify with the club, are the ones that make the decisions. Oliver Kahn himself is a former player of Bayern Munich, as is sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Sailhamidzić. Kahn took over for the likes of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß, who were also former players at the club. And president Herbert Hainer...er...not so much. But in most positions, Bayern makes sure that the Bavarians giants is run not by businessmen in suits but, instead, businessmen in suits... who know the club and its’ values inside and out and will keep the club’s identity intact.
This, Kahn says, is rather rare to find among Europe nowadays. “It’s a unique characteristic of Bayern that former players lead the club or hold important positions. In European football, only Ajax, with Edwin Van der Sar as general manager, has a similar organization. Bayern is a club with tradition and it is a way of showing what is at the heart of our concerns: football.”
So while Bayern has been known as a stingy club that saves on cash, Kahn says that Bayern will not lose sight of its’ real goals. “With us, only sporting success counts. We don’t need to make profits. This is the essence of FC Bayern.”
But more than hiring former Bayern players and keeping one’s goals in sight at all times, Kahn points out what he views is the most important part of the club. “The most important thing is always that no one is bigger than Bayern. The people or the names don’t matter. For decades, many great players have played here, from Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller to Neuer and Thomas Müller, including Lothar Matthäus and Robert Lewandowski. But no player has ever been above the interests of the club. All decisions are made in the interests of Bayern.”
It’s a pretty standard thing to say, but to be fair, Bayern has done a solid job of keeping this identity together over the decades. And if this model of recruiting former Bavarian greats continues to go this well, then perhaps Bayern can retain this identity for even longer.