The current lockdown caught Rapid at a particularly bad time.
Ironically, two of the most lucrative home games of the year, the one in the Europa League against West Ham on Thursday and the one against Austria on December 5, will be played without spectators. The hope that the lockdown will end after ten days and then fans will be allowed in the derby is only in theory, said business manager Christoph Peschek to the APA.
“It cannot be ruled out, but it is very unlikely.” Peschek estimates the loss of income through a derby behind closed gates at a high six-figure sum, the lockout against West Ham is even more important.
The game would have been sold out with 23,500 visitors and would have been the most profitable since the Europa League sixteenth-finals against Inter Milan in February 2020. Since this Europa League match is not included in the season subscription, it brings higher additional income than a well-attended league game. But as it is, Rapid is losing an estimated turnover of one million euros.
“Emotional and Economic Damage”
It is bitter that these “highlight games” have to be played without an audience. “We play football for our fans,” said Peschek and saw “emotional and economic damage” for his club. At least the latter should be cushioned by public support, and there have already been corresponding announcements on the part of politicians.
For lockdown ghost games in the past, only those in the Bundesliga were taken into account via sports league funds; there was no compensation for the empty stadium in the previous year in the Europa League against Arsenal, Molde and Dundalk. But now Peschek hopes that the game against West Ham will be considered. “By Friday, our level of knowledge was that a lockdown was almost impossible for everyone. On this basis, we got the game day organization up and running.”
For example, security and catering were booked. Peschek: “Therefore, the issue is not only a lack of revenue, but also expenses that have already been incurred.” The ticket reimbursement for the Thursday game also costs money, and Rapid will publish the corresponding procedure in the coming days. In addition, the closure of the fan shop hurts. “In merchandising, the Christmas season is the time with the highest sales,” explained Peschek.
No existential fears at Rapid
Despite all the negative effects, there is no need to fear that Rapid will slide into existential hardship. “The challenges are getting even bigger, but the cohesion we have so far gives us confidence that we will overcome the current hurdles,” said Peschek and emphasized that Rapid is “a reliable partner in the fight against the pandemic”.
However, Rapid’s fight against Corona has also left its mark – for example in its own annual report, which shows significantly increased liabilities totaling 32.7 million euros. “When the pandemic broke out, when government support was not yet secure, we took measures to ensure liquidity,” Peschek said. The amounts are “taken into account in the financial planning and will be repaid”.
The annual report also showed an increase of 700,000 euros for the 2020/21 season – probably too little to make big leaps in the winter transition period. Peschek announced that they would act “situation-elastic” on the transfer market and want to be “prepared for all scenarios”. The Hütteldorfer economic manager was also waiting in connection with the search for a new trainer. “Quality comes before speed. That is an important personnel decision at Rapid, if not the most important one.”
Textquelle: © APA
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