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FC Basel is looking for itself

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FC Basel is looking for itself

The former series champion staggers through the Super League like an ailing boxer. The club owners’ transfer turbo strategy is putting a strain on him. Under the yoke of capital requirements, the owners give the impression that they cannot accept simple cash flows.

Conjectures about business proximity to his twin brother follow FCB boss David Degen like annoying flies.

Georgios Kefalas / Keystone

The longer the match in Lucerne lasts, the clearer it becomes that the once great FC Basel has become a normal Super League club – with little charisma, somewhere in the bottom half of the table, just good enough to avoid the worry of relegation to keep body. If there weren’t guest fans present at the happy 1-1 draw in Lucerne in front of almost 15,300 spectators, who filled two guest sectors, you wouldn’t believe that Basel could be seen there.

FC Basel’s looming position in the table, which was last more lamentable over a quarter of a century ago, is the result of too much personnel movement, of a disintegrated team, of incomprehensible coaching changes, of inexperienced club owners, one way from yesterday, another way today – and another day again tomorrow .

In the summer of 2023, the club more or less changed the team. Players like Andy Diouf, Zeki Amdouni, Dan Ndoye, Wouter Burger, Riccardo Calafiori and Andy Pelmard left Basel for England, Italy and France. If you put the (wholesale) sale of these players in relation to their purchase, FCB generated around 35 million francs net. This is a significant gain and indicates transfer skills and network. All players play regularly in their new clubs.

Basel has sold for over 50 million players

FCB sold a total of over 55 million personnel in 2023, but at the same time he bought for 34. A football club as a water heater. Buy, sell, re-til the field, make money, relieve the burden on the annual accounts. Everything was new, including the coach, who was called Timo Schultz at the time.

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The result: Because of all the business practices, the club loses contour, style and identification. He gets off track and stays away from the European Cup this year. Without an international showcase and with meager results, the transfer proceeds will remain manageable.

Maybe Calafiori will soon move from Bologna to a big club for a lot of money. As Calafiori’s previous club, FCB would be significantly involved. Maybe Renato Veiga can be sold. Or Thierno Barry. The club owners are also expecting a structural deficit of 15 million in 2024, which provisions from the successful (transfer) year 2023 could cushion. Plus transfers again?

In the last few days, the fallen club has come into other conversation. It’s about missing money, concealment and communication. How did it all come about? The derivation reads like a fairy tale.

The club owners underestimated the capital requirements

Once upon a time there were wealthy people in Basel who were involved in the management of FC Basel. They knew that it wouldn’t be easy, the times in the club were too turbulent, and Swiss football is too often in deficit.

People were new to football and had the former club patron and Roche co-heiress Gisela Oeri in mind. Oeri carried with her a problem that wealthy people would not shake until their death. Everyone knows: Oeri has a lot of money. Very much. Why should other people give money when she has so much of it?

As new investors, Dan Holzmann, Ursula Rey-Krayer and Andreas Rey climbed into the new captain David Degen’s FCB boat as shareholders on choppy seas over the course of 2021. He had just won a power struggle with the owner Bernhard Burgener, was a former footballer and then became a player’s agent.

The wealthy had a slightly different idea of ​​professional football, didn’t want publicity and noticed how quickly urgent capital needs could arise. They initially raised a few million in loans, later adding more, bringing the total to over 10 million francs. It should be noted that loans in football often have to be written off.

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The Basel donors are creating transparency in the penumbra

Most of the money comes from the wealthy Krayer family and is made available to football. The problem: They didn’t talk about it and initiated disguised transactions through third-party companies. This in turn led to rumors and speculation on social networks, which prompted the club owners last week to get as clear a table as possible in a small group with three selected media outlets. So transparency, but among yourself in Basel and in the semi-darkness. This in turn leads to the question at half distance: What are they doing there?

They justify themselves and make public what they should have made public long ago in media-driven football. And you notice: like so many investors before them, they underestimated the business. This results in the statement that they would do this or that “differently” today. This includes the fact that club boss David Degen’s annual salary of 300,000 francs is no longer concealed.

But Degen and Co. remain vulnerable. This has to do with brotherhoods, dependencies and favoritism, which at first glance do not seem anything disreputable. But all in all, a strange taste remains. Players like Andy Diouf, who belong to the Philipp Degens agency, are transferred abroad. Philipp is David’s twin brother. He assures that he withdrew from the agency after joining FCB.

Nevertheless, the distances remain short. Even though Diouf brought the club a lot of money with well over 10 million, annoying and unpleasant questions still stick with the Degen brothers. It will stay that way, even if the club boss wants to make it clear that he will take action in the event of possible conflicts of interest.

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The FCB management lets connections play

In addition, various companies have received orders from FC Basel (stadium services, infrastructure adjustments) that are – or were – connected to the club owners. Here too: The club does not have to advertise anything. But why not more openness? A football club is organized like a stock corporation, but remains a public institution. The executive floor has to explain itself periodically. Actually.

If she doesn’t do it or tries to keep something secret, she’ll suddenly find herself in the dock. And everything seems more dramatic than it is. There is still no sign on the horizon that FC Basel is finding its way back to its old strength. The high-proof Basel cocktail includes rumors that the board is looking for capital and new partners. The national coach Murat Yakin is said to have noticed in a small circle that the Xhaka family was trying to get FCB.

The Basel fairy tale hour leaves nothing out.

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