A portrait of Clemens Tönnies. Eisbein for Putin and arguing with the nephew – that’s the Schalke boss

The Corona cases in their own company are only the last in a series of various bad news for Clemens Tönnies. Smaller and larger crises are no stranger to the billionaire. A portrait.

In football he belongs to the dying species, yes, he is almost non-existent: the sole ruler of a club that can switch and act as he likes, who likes to make decisions from the gut or shoot from the hip and with himself even in this it seems completely in peace. The sole ruler at least approves of the fact that he is more often in the spotlight than his club. Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder was the best-known representative of this type, the CDU politician who died in 2015 was the president of his VfB Stuttgart for 25 years, and the property pronoun can be understood here in the truest sense of the word. In addition, he was at times Baden-Württemberg’s finance minister, later – from 2001 to 2006 – even DFB president, two years in a double position with Theo Zwanziger.

But “MV” was always in the headlines due to various misconduct. Sometimes Mayer-Vorfelder caused at least borderline statements for discussions, then again with tax scandals. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” once called him “professional affair”.

Photo series with 15 pictures

Relocation to Schalke for the late brother

And in a way, Clemens Tönnies is yet another of these dying species. Wednesday ended with another low blow for the 64-year-old: The 1-2 defeat of his FC Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga game at Eintracht Frankfurt worsened the already bad crisis of Royal blues, who have been waiting for a win for 14 Bundesliga games and continue to expand their own negative record.

The head of the district club could have used positive news that day – because before that, the entrepreneur had to take his main job. Over 650 employees in Tönnies ’slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück – after all the largest in Germany – have tested positive for Corona, the work there has now been suspended until further notice. Allegations of insufficient working conditions for migrant workers from Eastern Europe and alleged wage dumping included.

Tönnies operation in Rheda-Wiedenbrück: The corporation was hit hard by the Corona crisis. (Source: imago images)Tönnies operation in Rheda-Wiedenbrück: The corporation was hit hard by the Corona crisis. (Source: imago images)

Who is this billionaire, whose hair is always so accurately coiffured, whose company slaughtered 17 million pigs every year? Criticism was never foreign to Tönnies. Since 1994 he has been involved in the traditional Bundesliga club, which even through his own efforts never seems to come to rest. Brother Bernd had died shortly before after a kidney transplant; it was only in February of the year that the club’s general assembly elected him president. Bernd also founded the meat empire in 1971, from whom Clemens not only takes over the management of the company, but also the role in the football club – as a personal promise, given on his deathbed. He once said that he wasn’t actually a front row man.

“Mr. Putin likes to pickle the ice legs”

But he feels more and more comfortable in his role over the years. He makes connections to politics and is at the forefront when S04 plays several times for the German championship around the turn of the millennium. Tönnies also contributes to explosive decisions for the emotional fan base: in 2006 he dismisses long-time manager Rudi Assauer with the words “Our Rudi is tapped into every little blunder”, shortly afterwards Assauer, who always saw Schalke as his project, steps in brought the new stadium along and formed the club with skilful transfers to the top club.

A year later, Tönnies is threading the lucrative sponsorship deal with the Russian billion-dollar company Gazprom, making friends with Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin. He congratulates the politician on election victories. At every meeting in the Kremlin there is a small gift made in-house: “Mr. Putin likes to pickle the legs,” says Tönnies about friendship with men.

As the club oscillates between the top of the Bundesliga and mediocrity over the years, the family father faces a conflict on the corporate side: In 2014, a bitter and bizarre dispute over shares in the company flared up with his nephew Robert Tönnies, which after Bernd Tönnies’ death both ended Hold 50 percent. In 2017 both sides agreed in a laboriously worded paper, the balance of power remained.

Robert is suing again in late 2019, this time for insufficient information about an investment business. Here too, the dispute is clarified at the last second. The 41-year-old is currently still trying to force the sale of the company – against which Clemens Tönnies is still resisting. And: In the course of the Corona Falls, he calls in the company his uncle’s resignation.

His quick return to Schalke frowns

As early as 2016, the Bundeskartellamt sentenced two subsidiaries to a fine of 128 million euros for proven price fixing – which cannot then be collected because the companies concerned had already been liquidated. As a result, the Federal Cabinet passed an amendment to the law to block this way out in the future.

The club boss outraged last August when he pleaded for the construction of power plants in Africa on the day of the craft in Paderborn – with the note: “Then they stop cutting down the trees and they stop when it is dark, when we have them namely electrify to produce children. ” For his verbal ricochet in cheerful racism, Tönnies receives criticism from all sides, as a result of which he resigns from his office at Schalke – for three months. He imposes the “punishment” on himself, his quick return to the public then also causes frowns.

The debate at the time “hit him hard,” he says in January 2020 at “Sky”. “Not because I said something wrong, but because it was misunderstood. I was misunderstood.” Guilty? Nothing. No admission has yet been given to the current Corona cases in our own company.

As with one of these sole football rulers, this dying breed. Or just: An “affair professional”, to whom this Clemens Tönnies also seems to have become.

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