Kaiserslautern (dpa) – The great Fritz Walter would have turned 100 this year, and 1. FC Kaiserslautern just celebrated its 120th anniversary: In the anniversary year, the traditional club from the Palatinate is on the verge of going bankrupt.
The third division confirmed on Monday that they had filed an application for the opening of insolvency proceedings under their own management at the district court in Kaiserslautern. “The application for bankruptcy must be seen as an opportunity. It is the last cartridge, but it should also be a ‘re-start’ for the FCK,” said Plenipotentiary General Dirk Eichelbaum at a press conference on the Betzenberg.
Previously, “Kicker” and SWR had reported on this upcoming move by the four-time German soccer champion. “We no longer want to invest in the past, but in the future. There are many who want to take the path with us because FCK is a club with great opportunities,” said Managing Director Soeren Oliver Voigt.
Kaiserslautern are now said to be plagued by debts of around EUR 24 million. With a planned insolvency, the FCK could restructure itself and avert the impending fall into insignificance. The move has no sporting consequences for the Red Devils because of the current corona crisis. The German Football Association has suspended the nine-point deduction proposed for bankruptcy because of the special situation. The Palatinate are currently twelfth in the table with 44 points. The cushion to a relegation rank is seven counters.
“The aim of the process is to quickly restore economic performance,” said Voigt. The aim is to take the opportunity to “strengthen the equity base with investors for a fundamental economic restart”. The managing director plans to hold talks with interested investors together with Eichelbaum in the coming weeks. Voigt called the fact that professionals waive part of their salary “a remarkable signal”.
The FCK leadership around advisory board spokesmen Markus Merk and Voigt had intensively searched for ways out of the financial crisis in the past weeks. The hoped-for haircut did not materialize, however, because potential investors apparently only want to make their money available after the club has been completely restructured.
The club of the late 54 World Champion Fritz Walter has had turbulent years, both in terms of sport and finances. Lautern descended from the Bundesliga in 2011, the return was narrowly missed several times before the club had to move to the 3rd division in 2018. Trainers were exchanged again and again, those responsible had to go, the frustration among the fans increased.
Going into planned bankruptcy now gives the FCK one thing in particular: a little more time. After the application for the opening of a procedure follows a procedure of several months in which the FCK can withdraw its application at any time, provided that an agreement is reached with its creditors.
For Mayor Klaus Weichel (SPD) the concrete consequences for the city and stadium company are not yet foreseeable. He said this to the German Press Agency. “Of course we are not completely unprepared for this scenario and have been in contact with insolvency experts for some time.”
The municipal stadium company is about to sign the new lease and operator agreement, which provides for a reduced lease of 625,000 euros annually for the next two seasons, said Weichel. “The present contract will also contain a regulation for possible bankruptcy. In this case, the stadium company or the city will claim the full stadium lease of EUR 3.2 million.”
Due to the high debts and the expensive third league operations, the club is still dependent on external donors. Potential financiers who, according to the “kicker”, have a basic interest in getting started, apparently made the haircut a condition.