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Stuttgart join cash-strapped Bundesliga clubs seeking state aid

Matchday revenue lost due to the coronavirus pandemic has left German clubs like VfB Stuttgart seeking state aid
Matchday revenue lost due to the coronavirus pandemic has left German clubs like VfB Stuttgart seeking state aid Michael Sohn POOL/AFP/File
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Berlin (AFP)

Newly-promoted VfB Stuttgart are the latest cash-strapped Bundesliga club seeking financial aid because of lost matchday revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stuttgart finished runners-up in Germany's second division at the end of June to win promotion back to the Bundesliga a year after being relegated.

However, the 2007 German champions are among established names needing help balancing the books.

"During the lockdown phase, we examined all the possibilities for economic stabilisation and... applied for funding in order to secure our liquidity," the club's finance officer Stefan Heim told newspapers the Stuttgarter Nachrichten and Stuttgarter Zeitung.

"This was one of the measures we took to ensure VfB's economic survival at a time when nobody could predict when and how things would continue in football."

Heim said Stuttgart applied for aid through the state-owned KfW Bank, reportedly seeking a loan of around 15 million euros ($17 million).

They are not alone.

Germany's top clubs are counting the cost of lost revenue as the last nine rounds of matches in the top two tiers were played behind closed doors due to the pandemic.

Werder Bremen, who just managed top stay in the Bundesliga after winning the relegation/promotion play-off, have confirmed that they want a loan from the state-owned KfW Bank.

Schalke 04, who had debts of 198 million euros before the pandemic, recently applied to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for a guarantee to secure a loan, reportedly worth around 40 million euros.

Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke lost around two million euros of revenue for each of the four home games behind closed doors.

Even runners-up Borussia Dortmund are looking into ways of securing financial help from the state, according to magazine Der Spiegel.

However, Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke says the government must check whether clubs hit financial difficulties through the coronavirus or bad management.

"The State must check whether these are real effects of corona or not," said Watzke.

Others agree and the situation is the subject of debate in Germany.

"It should not be the case that failed business models in football are artificially maintained by taxpayers' money," Jens Ammann from the German Taxpayers Federation told website Business Insider.

"It can't be that professional salaries in the millions might end up being paid for by tax money."

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