Ffor development of FC Schalke 04 this is a milestone. “We are already forecasting a profit for the 2023 financial year, regardless of which league it belongs to,” announced Christina Rühl-Hamers, CFO of the Bundesliga club, and ventured a forecast that makes the future of the club, which continues to be heavily indebted, appear quite hopeful. “A financial trend reversal is clearly recognizable,” says Rühl-Hamers: “After almost three years, we have managed to lay a stable foundation again, from which we can take the next steps.”
As expected, Schalke ended the 2022 financial year with a low double-digit loss, but the profit forecast for the current financial year will be in the “single-digit or low double-digit million range”. “The path we took at the end of 2020 is now paying off,” explained Rühl-Hamers. Regardless of whether Schalke, currently in seventeenth place in the Bundesliga, will play in the first or second division in the future – the club is once again in a much more stable position economically.
“We will be able to further reduce liabilities in both scenarios. That doesn’t mean that big jumps are suddenly possible, but we’re still optimistic about the future,” said the CFO. In the future, for example, no players will have to be sold to support liquidity. For the sports management around sports director Peter Knäbel, this means a certain planning security after two complex personnel changes – after relegation in 2021 and resurgence in 2022.
Total liabilities are reduced
“The return to the Bundesliga is noticeable in all business areas. Sporting success is and will remain the central lever for all our financial projects,” explained Rühl-Hamers. In 2022, the club generated sales of 157 million euros, which is below the previous year’s level of 167.1. But due to the promotion, the decline in sales was less than for the other year in the second division planned in the previous year’s report. At the same time, total liabilities were reduced from EUR 183.5 million to EUR 180 million.
At EUR 141.5 million, financial liabilities were slightly above the previous year’s level (140.6). This can be attributed to the placement of two bonds with terms until 2026 and 2027. The bonds and the working capital loan, which was taken out during the corona pandemic, were important components of the restructuring. The first installments of the loan, for which the state of North Rhine-Westphalia guarantees, have already been repaid.
Also in the best possible position in the event of relegation
According to the message, Schalke was able to further consolidate its financial capacity to act in 2022. This was quite challenging as the club had parted ways with its long-term main sponsor Gazprom, which involved significant losses. After an interim solution with the real estate group “Vivawest”, Schalke has been advertising the car online platform “Mein Auto.de” since the beginning of the season, which is said to pay between seven and eight million euros a year. Gazprom would have paid nine million euros even in the second division if the deal had not been canceled because of the Russian war of aggression. “We have found very good solutions and are also in the best possible position for the second division,” said Rühl-Hamers.
Schalke is also confident about being licensed by the German Football League (DFL). “We firmly assume that we will receive the license for both leagues without liquidity conditions,” said Rühl-Hamers. However, a condition is expected because of the negative equity, which has increased from 88.8 to 109.8 million.