Wed, Dec 24, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Dortmund has to address growing financial problems


Not only is Borussia Dortmund having a disastrous season on the pitch, but Germany's second-richest club is also facing financial trouble.

On Monday, the respected soccer magazine Kicker and the daily Suedduetsche Zeitung reported that Dortmund -- dumped out of the Champions League in the qualifying phase by FC Brugge and then eliminated from the UEFA Cup -- faces a illion (US$62 million) operating loss this season.

"That we're expecting losses and that we're seeking a loan is correct. The sums named are incorrect," Dortmund manager Michael Meier told the German newspaper Bild.

Last season, the club earned US$42 million) for playing in the Champions League second round, more than AC Milan collected through its run to the title because of German television money.

However, Meier said the German magazine and newspaper were wrong in saying Dortmund was seeking a loan to fill holes in its budget. The side, he said, wants money to invest.

"It's a clear misjudgment to connect a financier's offer with a lack of income. Our credit worthiness is carelessly and willfully put in question that way," Meier said.

Dortmund is dealing with British-US investment house Schechter & Co, which has already put n (US$93 million) into Bundesliga rival FC Schalke in exchange for a long-term share of attendance receipts.

Dortmund, the reports said, is seeking euros (US$124 million) against revenue from its Westfalenstadion -- Germany's largest arena, with 80,000 seats.

Meier said Dortmund wasn't in serious financial trouble.

"It's normal for a business that finds itself economically in a tight time to take on a loan," he said.

While some Spanish, English and Italian clubs have debts far exceeding S$62 million), that would be a huge amount for tightly regulated German soccer.

Last season, FC Kaiserslautern teetered on the verge of bankruptcy and had to scramble for refinancing on debts.

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