TeBe Party Army

E- Block International - A Weblog for "Away Fans" of Tennis Borussia Berlin.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Got Any Spare Change?

So a thread has been opened on LK asking for fans to donate money to the club and the average donation is a solid 100 Euros but there will of course be a box for donations at the next match. So far the list looks like this:

1. Denis 150,-
2. Hagen 100,-
3. Steven 150,-
4. Philip 100,-
5. Morchelbein 100,-
6. Bart 100,-
7. Bruder von Bart 50,-
8. Bernd 100,- (über Denis)
9. Manfred 100,- (über Steven)
10. Martinb 100,-
11. Salomon 100,-
12. Hans 100,-
13. Bierverteiler 100,-

And other donations via

14. The Donation Box 10,- (which will be at every friendly match)

There is even now an account for donations:

Account Name: Fussball Kultur Berlin e.V.
Acc.-Nr.: 162 163 0
Bankcode: 100 400 00 (Commerzbank Westberlin)
Subject: Spenden für TeBe

But what exactly are people giving money for and most importantly why? I have some general problems:

Firstly, apart from some statements in the press from one of the Marx brothers about his missing 5 (sometimes 6) months pay, there is still no official statement from the club concerning the current financial situation. We fans have been continually asked to be patient and wait for the management to sort the situation out - then an official statement will be made. So why are people donating money now to the FKB account without knowing what the actual situation is?

Secondly, if the club is in need of cash flow at the moment then what is it going to go towards? Do fans really want to give their money towards paying for the legal costs and allegedly owing wages to players and training staff, who surely have a certain responsibility for any financial difficulties that the club may or may not be facing? I certainly do not want to do this, certainly without knowing the details and if the club is going to be taken to court then i do not want my money to be merely added to the ammount that the prosecution can claim as available.

Thirdly, it is still not clear which players may be leaving the club and those under contract will be subject to a transfer fee that TeBe should profit from. Even if the Marx brothers didnt meet their sporting aims, they certainly were part of a strategy that brought some good and interesting players to the club, players that certainly have the potential in many cases to play at a higher level. Before these details are made available and the club has officially made its statement then there really isn t much that the fans can do at this point.

Fourthly, the ultimate responsibility for any crisis that may or may not exist lies mostly in the hands of those who made the decisions, invested and signed the contracts. Although disappointed with the run of the season I am thankful to these people but I do not see why the fans should bail them out, at least without any background knowledge or insight into the situation at present. Football is a business and we as fans and members need this investment but also need effective management: If the management has f-ed it up so badly then they should pay their dues and get out. We need proper management and good management - this means that like in any other business that success is praised and failure punished. Again I would like to state clearly that we dont even know that anyone has actually ballsed up yet so this is just speculation based on the thread.

Fifthly - and most importantly - if the current fear is merely based on press speculation then we should consider the worst case scenario here, however much TeBe fans do not like to talk about this. If it is true that the club is in debt of a 6 figure sum, sometimes stated at around 150,000 Euros then 1,5 grand, even 2 or 3 or 4 thousand Euros isnt going to help anyone here. If TeBe really are facing bankruptcy then the money donated, some of it by youngsters without a lot of cash themselves in a rash Internet thread, is going nowhere but to pay some of a debt that will be wiped out in any insolvency scenario anyways. This money could be better used to rebuild the team afterwards if we have to start from scratch again - once donated then it is gone however. Again, until we know the situation then there is really nothing we can do- so patience people and give the management the chance to sort out the ins and outs and make their statement.

Another problem I have is the way the thread is taking in good and bad ideas and acting on them in a panic:

One of the original ideas is that the fans who donate money will all be put into a hat and the first two out get to sit in the dug outs for a match. This is really a terrible idea. Firstly, as a fan of TeBe I am not really sure that I really want fans on the bench during matches. There is a reason why they dont sit on the bench, take part in changing room discussions and shower and eat with the team - because they are fans and not players. I dont have a relationship with the players as a fan but with the team as a whole and the club. Players come and go and so do training staff, they have arguments, play well and also play badly, have arguments and are team mates. I dont want to interfere with this and wouldnt want even the more amicable of fans to be there with them - in the case of some fans the idea of them on the bench interacting with the players and giving their 2 cents makes me shudder. Secondly the difference in our division between players and fans, the distance between us and the bench is minimal but it is always the players who get to chose this distance depending on their mood and personality - it is good that it stays this way.

Another idea is even worse in my opinion and that is that some of the fans pay good money to travel to away matches in the bus with the players. The idea of a load of fans talking to the players as they are preparing for their match and discussing last minute tactics and stuff is even worse than for just the reasons given above. However great it is to hear that players enjoy playing for Tebe and appreciate the tolerant attitudes of the fans and their political stance, it doesnt necessarily mean that the players are going to be interested in meeting the average Tebe fan i fear. Again in the case of some fans I think the leass they have to do with the team the better. Reality check please.

The third idea, which is admittedly not as bad as the others is that we Tebe fans get out there and write and speak to companies and ask them to help the team by sponsorship. This is again a noble idea but from experience not that easy, especially when we as fans dont even know what we can actually offer them in real terms or what they might get for their money. An idea of dealing with this follows shortly in the next section.

Another idea was that the money could be used to pay for some things around the club that are needed. This isnt such a bad idea but perhaps these things could be covered by the council or by sponsors if some fans got more involved and helped out around the club more looking for smaller sponsors or writing to the council for funds. Again see the next section.

So what are my suggestions then, after all giving up some cash for your club isnt something that i disagree with in principle, and even if the crisis is just press speculation and nothing more then a bit of cash or new sponsors cant harm the club. Well i have a few suggestions:

1. The most important thing that fans can do is to join the club. The more members we have the better our financial future looks and the more seriously the club will be taken by the local council and the Berlin parliament. Once a member then get active - there are lots of things that can be done to help out that might just be an odd job here or there but together save the club money and help the club to function efficiently. Only recently Olaf was looking for people to help out with paperwork and the membership fees that come out of my account are less than regular sometimes. Sadly very few people answered Olaf's call to arms, I offered to help with any translation the club may need and there are surely ways that your personal skills and contacts could help out in little ways. Then, and I am a sinner here, get along to the meetings and express your ideas and make your vote count. This is important for TeBe but too few of us do this and we (me included) have no excuse.

2. Show a little bit of faith in the club and wait for their official statements before jumping the gun and adding to speculation by wildly donating money on the Internet. If the club has made the mistake of chucking money about wildly then we dont have to do the same thing. Pledges are good but we should consider how to use our investments wisely - every little bit helps is often mentioned in the thread but this is only true if it is used wisely. I would suggest an emergency fan meeting with representatives of the management if the situation isnt cleared up soon but also in any case so we as fans can consider how best to act with this new and noble idea of donations and support.

3. Instead of donating 100 Euros, why not invest this money by buying 4 friends who dont come to Tebe a season ticket for the 2nd half of the season? Not only does the club still get the money but will profit from beer and food sales, perhaps even merchandise and most importantly more fans makes the club immediately more lucrative to sponsors and gives us more chance of getting into the press. Financial stability in football is made up of many different factors but getting people in the ground is one where all of us can pla an active role in. Perhspa the club would even be willing to sell the tickets at a discount for those who take part in this action? This "bring your friends cheap" system works very well in lower league football in the UK and maybe next year these new fans will be out buying tickets of their own and perhaps even for some friends as well.

4. Lets have an official meeting to discuss our sponsorship gaining ideas with the club so that we know what we can offer potential sponsors. One idea that I know from Southend United but that doesnt exist at TeBe is the possibility of smaller companies to sponsor individual players for a match, the name of the company appearing then in the programme under the players name and photo. For a small figure the company can chose the player and gets a mention. This allows smaller businesses to get involved, smaller businesses who can then publicise their support of the team adding to public awareness of the team and the players. We would have to discuss this with the club, how much it would cost and whether cheaper VIP tickets would perhaps be available to the companies for example. But the actually going to small businesses and asking if they are interested is something that we as fans could do on a personal level and much more suited to fans than phoning up or writing to big firms with letters that cannot name prices or offer deals.

So my conclusion:

Lets be patient with the club management. Perhaps their diplomacy isnt always the greatest (see thread tomorrow if I have time) but they are business people and know the situation. There are still things to be sorted with possible transfers and we shouldnt be jumping to conclusion based on press statements from people threatening to sue the club. The club said wait for a statement so lets wait and if the worst comes to the worst then lets use our contributions, contacts and skills wisely...

... but I am sure that donations are very much appreciated and although it seems a bit Union or Pauli to me and although I dont like the nature of the thread I also appreciate what fans are trying to do. I think that we should however consider how we spend wisely and see what we as fans can do better to help our club - this could be more efficient than merely throwing money at the club. Let us have a meeting and discuss ways how we can actively help the club, how we can envisage sponsor deals from small companies where we as fans will be more effective and lets get others (friends and family etc) into the stadium with our cash to support the team and spend their money and boost advertising. However we should think twice about actually mixing in with the team and the way it is run and keep the distance between us as fans and the players and the staff.

Even if you dont all agree, I hope that this text (at least for those who understand) brings about some discussion, thought and productive debate.

Purple White Greetings, Andy


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