Hoeneß: It can still be a good season
Uli Hoeneß opened his speech at the 2018 Annual General Meeting with an impressive number: FC Bayern now boasts 291,000 members. "It means we remain the world’s largest sports club in terms of membership," the club president enthusiastically reported. "The club lives from its members, you are the soul of the club,” the 66-year-old continued as he opened his review of the year.
Hoeneß had another fine figure to report: the club’s charity foundation FC Bayern Hilfe eV received donations totalling €350,000 last year, supporting 37 individuals and 21 institutions. "Among them were two institutions that cared for and looked after our long-standing deceased member and former trumpeter, Manfred Rögelein," Hoeneß said.
New Olympic Park hall for basketball - Audi Dome to remain home
In addition to these inspiring figures, the members’ club president reviewed an extremely successful year on the sporting front. The basketball section, whose star performers Nihad Dedović, Danilo Barthel and Alex King were present at the Audi Dome, had a "fantastic 2017/18 season", culminating in the double for the first time in the history of the club. And the prospects for the future are bright. "In around three years, there will be a new hall at the Olympic Park site," Hoeneß revealed. Red Bull will be the owner and FC Bayern a tenant of the approximately 11,000-capacity hall on the site of the former velodrome, but FCB has secured the naming rights and passed them on to partner SAP. The basketball team will play about 20 to 25 matches per season there. "However, the Audi Dome will remain our home," Hoeneß remarked - before moving onto the subject of football.
"A lot would have been much easier if we’d had this meeting at the end of September," said the former world-class striker. Up to that point Bayern had been playing outstanding football, "but there’s been a spanner in the works for eight or so weeks.” The club is in a transitional phase and has run into a few predictable problems, but the answer according to Hoeneß is "hard work" in the weeks to come - and that with coach Niko Kovac, who the president wholeheartedly endorsed.
"We have a very, very good young coach who deserves a chance, and we should all give him our support," he explained, earning loud and approving applause from the members in attendance. "It will be a difficult campaign, although it’s by no means over yet. I’m convinced this season can be a good one," he declared.
The president identified two reasons for optimism: the probable return of long-term absentees Kingsley Coman and Thiago in Bremen at the weekend, and a "real coming together between the team, coach and management in the past week." That was visible on Tuesday when the men in red posted a thumping win over Benfica. With the new mood in the dressing room, it should be possible for the Bavarians to "do well this season and then push on into the future at full power."
Investment in the summer
Hoeneß returned to the topic of a club in transition, and not just on the field. "We all have to set a new course, and that includes the management,” the president said, revealing that Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will make a decision by Christmas about his future beyond the end of his current contract in December 2019. For the period after that, solutions are currently being discussed in which "the name Oliver Kahn also plays a major role." However, this topic is not urgent and will first be tackled at the next supervisory board meeting in February.
Hoeneß urged those responsible to weigh up all the options and "devise the best solution for the club and the individuals concerned.” Long-term thinking and FC Bayern’s reputation play an important role, he reaffirmed, before concluding with a promise: "Next year, we’ll invest on a larger scale and strengthen the team so we can stand up to almost all our European opponents. That has to be FC Bayern's ambition."