The corona pandemic is increasingly affecting professional sport: among the footballers at Bayern Munich, a number of players who have tested positive are being put into quarantine, among the basketball players, Würzburg will have to do without four players and coach Sasa Filipovski against Bayreuth, and on Tuesday there will be a quarantine the next game of EWE Baskets Oldenburg has been cancelled. The BG Göttingen is right in the middle, and in view of the highly contagious omicron variant, those responsible for the violets are also thinking about how to proceed.
“Events are happening at the moment,” says BG Managing Director Frank Meinertshagen about the events of the past few days. “We now have to see how the infection process develops.” It cannot be ruled out that the game of the violets at Medi Bayreuth on Wednesday will have to be canceled at short notice, after all, Medi recently faced each other in the Franconia derby with Würzburg – crazy times in the BBL.
Meinertshagen actually rules out another break
“I can’t imagine taking a break any time soon. But you have to see how many games are postponed or canceled before we get through with the wave,” says Meinertshagen about the Omikron variant. “It is indeed difficult to assess.” Assuming that half the league is affected by quarantine orders, the situation must be reassessed.
It may be possible to learn from other countries and other leagues where the Omicron variant is already dominant. The fact that, as in the USA, corona infections or quarantine cases are simply compensated for with the acquisition of players who receive short-term contracts, is unthinkable in this country not only because of the regulations, but also for financial considerations and for reasons of fairness. “We just have to try to continue playing as best we can,” Meinertshagen clarifies.
The previously unavoidable 14-day quarantine for teams in which omicron has been detected could become a problem. The new corona variant is considered highly infectious, which is why entire teams are paralyzed if the test is positive. For comparison: With the Delta variant, only the infected player has to go into quarantine, and there is also the possibility that he will “test himself free” after five days. “Game operations would be severely affected if several teams had to be rigorously quarantined for 14 days if they tested positive for the Omicron variant,” Meinertshagen explains.
“Financially, the most difficult time is now upon us, and I’m not sure that all BBL clubs will survive the corona situation well in the medium term, should things continue like this,” says the Veilchen boss in plain language. Example BG: Those responsible are very happy that 500 spectators can watch the derby against Braunschweig or the next home game against Frankfurt – partly because it is nice for the fans, the sponsors are offered something worthwhile and there is at least some atmosphere in the hall . But with regard to the effort and the resulting costs, it doesn’t really pay off: “If we were to end the season with 500 spectators instead of without any spectators at all, it would cost us a mid-six-figure amount,” says Meinertshagen.
Fewer viewers due to corona “only go well for a while”
Another arithmetic example: A full house like against Bayern and a lower number of spectators due to the regulation like against Crailsheim make a difference in income of around 50,000 euros for the BG. “It works well for a while, but it doesn’t work well,” emphasizes the BG boss, who hasn’t been a member of the BBL presidium for a few days – although he ran again, he is a competitor, a representative of a smaller club been preferred to him, which of course he accepts. “I would have liked to stay in there. You are no longer so close and can no longer have a say in developments,” says Meinertshagen.
The federal government’s Corona Aid for top-class sport is important, “but in the long run, i.e. for years, it doesn’t help either, because of course it doesn’t cover all of our losses,” says the Veilchen managing director. Top clubs like Alba Berlin have a bigger buffer, but also bigger losses. Meinertshagen’s conclusion: “I don’t think there are clubs that immediately pull the tackle, but at some point we have to go back to normal operations.” And above all: “The more often we are suspended, the more difficult it is to win back the fans.”