A glimmer of hope amid financial despair for Germany’s Frankfurt Universe

This Saturday the Frankfurt Universe will play their Big6/Eurobowl matchup against the la Courneuve Flash from France.

It was a close call though. As of Wednesday, they weren’t going to be able to. And the rest of the season is still in jeopardy.

In the midst of bankruptcy proceedings and being run by court-appointed liquidator Thomas Rittmeister, the Frankfurt Universe were very close to cancelling their entire season Wednesday. Things looked extremely bleak.

Samsung, the main sponsor for the club, said that they could not continue to keep propping the the team up. So there were no funds available to pay for stadium rent for the game with at least 70,000 euros still owing from last year. Rittmeister stated that they had to look for another venue, or come up with the money.

Somehow he managed to do it. With last-minute support from the City of Frankfurt, the stadium rental company, FSV Fankfurt, the soccer team who holds the lease, the German Football League as well as David Knower, the COO of  Zerberus, a financial consulting firm, he managed to pull together enough funds to hold a scaled down version of the game. Somewhere in the neighborhood of between 10,000 and 20,000 euros was raised overnight.

No frills, just the football game.

The operating company of the Frankfurt Universe (FUB) has been struggling for months with major financial issues and just before Easter filed for bankruptcy. The situation was exacerbated when Samsung suspended its payments with immediate effect. Apparently, a clause in the contract allows Samsung to terminate its commitment when the Universe bankruptcy takes effect.

The funding from Samsung this year were probably only used to help  settle some of the past debts. This could subsequently become a case for the prosecutor, because creditors might have been paid by the Universe, before Rittmeister stepped in.  A court ruling against the Universe in a lawsuit launched by former general manager Matthias Mämpel helped speed the financial woes along.

The City of Frankfurt has a vested interest in the success of the Universe. After a 30 million euro renovation of the stadium, they need paying tenants. As of now, the local soccer team, FSV Frankfurt is the main tenant and they in turn rent the stadium out to the Universe. So FSV could lose upwards of 100,000 Euros if the Universe disappear. This is money that neither they, nor the City, can afford to lose.

According to Rittmeister, all is still not lost. Samsung has not yet finally withdrawn, but wants to wait and see what the financial plan of Rittmeister looks like.

“Samsung has not definitively withdrawn, we will continue constructive open-ended discussions with the sponsor.”

So the players, coaches and fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Temporarily at least. And La Courneuve Flash president Bruno Lacam-Caron can also do the same. His club stood to lose almost 10,000 Euros in booked hotel and travel expenses had the game not been played.

The question now is, what happens next? Frankfurt is scheduled to play a home game against the Marburg Mercenaries on May 13.

The answer will have to wait according to Rittmeister:

 “We are happy for now. This was a tremendous win thanks to the efforts and commitment of so many people. Now the club and FUB need a full stadium and the moral support of all the fans this weekend. Both players and coaches have honestly earned it with their terrific performance in recent games.”

 

 

 

 

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