For many of the around 90,000 sports clubs that exist in this country, December 31st will be the day of the decision. At the turn of the year there is a threat of a huge exit wave. »With some clubs you can resign at the end of the quarter, with some on June 30th. A termination at the end of the year is possible at really every sports club. We already dread that, «admits Boris Schmidt jW.
The chairman of the board of the Freiburger Kreis, an amalgamation of the 180 largest German sports clubs with currently more than a million members, has already got a foretaste at home in Hamburg-Bergedorf. At the end of 2019, his gymnastics and sports community (TSG) had a proud 11,081 members, around 900 of whom said goodbye in June. “That was still halfway normal, we have cancellations of this magnitude at this time. To this end, 600 to 700 new members always register in the middle of the year. That’s the usual rhythm. This time, at the end of the half-year, there were no new entries at all. That’s bad for us, ”says Schmidt.
Should no new members register by the end of the year and instead more withdrawals take place, the 160-year-old club could face the end. The danger is real. Schmidt, who has been at the helm of TSG in Bergedorf for 33 years, is already preparing sleepless nights. Especially since the development could affect the entire Freiburg district, organized sport in general. Everything threatens to collapse.
Schmidt and his colleagues are all the more annoyed by the fact that in public perception only the survival of professional football and the other commercial leagues plays a role. After all, the federal government has put together a EUR 200 million aid package for them. “And what will become of us? Who shows us prospects for the future? «Asks the head of the major German clubs, all of them» locomotives «for the approximately 27 million members of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB). In April and May one could save oneself in the big clubs with short-time work. Since the company is now running again under corona regulations, personnel costs and expenses for the sports facilities are fully charged again – with less and soon perhaps dramatically falling income.
Sports clubs are not allowed to build reserves, there are no financial buffers, and aid funds from the federal and state governments worth billions are tailored to companies. “These aids are of no use to us,” says Schmidt. »We would have to prove that our sales in April and May decreased by 60 percent compared to the previous year. Should we only be allowed to submit applications after we have lost two thirds of our members? With such losses we would not be there for a long time. “
After almost half a year of experience with the pandemic, it is high time to clearly demonstrate these peculiarities of sporting club life to the big politicians and to request suitable offers of help. Otherwise this socio-political foundation threatens not only to falter, but also to disappear. The DOSB must finally act as a lobbyist for its clubs and as a moderator in relation to politics, the Hamburg club sports manager demands. “But we rather have the impression that up there we are not really sure about the extent of our problems.”
At the end of May, DOSB President Alfred Hörmann asked the Bundestag sports committee for emergency aid of a good billion euros for sports clubs. Calculated using the simple formula: 90,000 sports clubs, each with an average of 12,000 euros in “corona damage”. A poorly founded advance, says Schmidt, a quick shot with which Hörmann flashed just as quickly. The situation of sport in all its breadth must be presented in a more differentiated manner. Although all 90,000 clubs are in the same boat, the differences are considerable. The »giants« organized in the Freiburg district had their own sports facilities through the bank and had correspondingly high operating costs, while conventional sports clubs were mostly at home on communal facilities. Another aspect: While full-time staff is the exception for clubs of normal size, the big ones cannot do without permanent employees. TSG Bergedorf alone has 170 employees. Unfortunately, Boris Schmidt does not know how many jobs are threatened at the 180 large clubs. It is regrettable that such facts are urgently needed now, as the DOSB leadership wants and has to get the parliamentarians on their side by the end of the year.