A positive player test will not be a “catastrophe” because of the Bundesliga’s “excellent” Coronavirus plans, according to Borussia Dortmund sporting director Carsten Cramer, who believes that the competition could prove a “best practice” example for the Premier League and its European rivals.
German football is set to return on Saturday, with a sophisticated plan that the country’s government has said is one of the best it had received from any industry. That illustrates how much smoother the Bundesliga’s attempt to return has gone, in everything from player wage cuts to the logistics of coming back.
Cramer did admit that some of the motivations are entirely economical, since his club have been losing €3m for every unplayed matchday, and warned “if we fail, the problems afterwards will be even bigger than before”.
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It is because of the quality of the Bundesliga plan, however, that Cramer believes they can handle positive tests and offer a “big step in a fruitful future for European football as well”.
“The Bundesliga created a matchday schedule that makes it possible for some games to be postponed,” he told The Independent.
“A positive test won’t be a catastrophe as long as we have the rules and recommendations for how to get along with it. We have a close exchange with our health department. The moment they say ‘Dortmund, you have too many positive tests we have to make a decision, we will follow. Right now we have always had negative tests.
“The problems of the Bundesliga are similar to La Liga and Premier League – for all of us, part of this sector, it is important that we can finish the regular season. It might be helpful for other leagues now that Germany could be a best practise. This is helpful not only for the Bundesliga but also for other leagues.
“But my hope is that we can give good arguments to other leagues that it makes sense and works that if you have a concept and strategy a domestic league can restart.
“Like Alexander Ceferin said, it’s also helpful for UEFA and other competitions that there is a way existing for how to come back with a domestic, regular matchday.”
Cramer admitted it does mean there is a certain tension about coming back, despite the relief.
“Happy might be too euphoric as there’s so much pressure on all of us but we are relieved and satisfied we can restart because without a restart not only Dortmund, but the Bundesliga would get in really big problems and therefore we are thankful and grateful Bundesliga can restart this weekend.
“If we will fail, we know this will have a negative impact to the other league as well, so these are our thoughts.”
Cramer also revealed that there wasn’t a single player who was reluctant about coming back.
“It’s an easy question: No.”
The players also agreed to pay cuts in the space of an hour’s meeting, as Cramer revealed the cost of the postponement to even a club of Dortmund’s size.
“It is around €3m per matchday.
“This is a big issue because revenues are missing but the expenses are still continuing. We are happy we didn’t need to convince the players to reduce the salaries, that was just a one-hour meeting, each player agreed and understood they had to give up a percentage of their salaries – the management did as well – but we are losing money of course.
“The ticketing revenues for the outstanding five games are zero – sponsors are discussing with us their properties – the media is really helping us, talking about Sky. Big compliment to them for how they supported Bundesliga. But we have more than just a single euro missing – the financial situation is really challenging and difficult – and if you ask this question to other Bundesliga clubs you would get worse answers from 50% of the clubs than my side.
“To bring it to normal, economical wording, our production is playing football. If you don’t produce your product, you don’t have income, but you still have the costs and expenses. So the longer we don’t play, the less the model works, and that’s also how we try to convince the decision-makers that we can get along with a period of less football, but after 2, 3, 4 months it’s really challenging.
“We need to play football, because if we don’t play football, if Volkswagon don’t produce cars, how can they remain as a car seller? It doesn’t work
“I’m positive, but I’m also professional. The concept the Bundesliga developed is an excellent one – the government gave it really good approval. The government said they never received a concept like this before from any other business sector. I think we did a really good job, but now we have to pay back the confidence and trust the government and people have given to the Bundesliga.
“I can’t give you a 100% guarantee we will make it to the end but I can promise that we are very well prepared and everyone is fighting 24/7 to finalise this project because we know if we fail, the problems afterwards will be even bigger than before.
“There are of course many people who might be a bit negative and jealous, and maybe hope we might fail, this puts us under pressure and ambition to perform as best as it is possible. If this will work in Germany, I’m sure it will be helpful for the other leagues, and it might be a big step in a fruitful future for European football as well.”