"Without cost reductions, the crisis would not have been manageable".

In an interview, board member Frank Wettstein comments on the course of business and explains the effects of the Corona pandemic.

The HSV Supervisory Board has approved the annual financial statements of HSV Fußball AG as of 30 June 2021 prepared by the Board of Management. Board member Frank Wettstein comments on the figures in an interview. 

The Supervisory Board has approved the annual financial statements as of 30 June 2021. How do you summarise the course of business?

Frank Wettstein: The 2020/21 financial year cannot begin to be compared with other periods in the history of HSV due to the effects of the pandemic. Since March 2020, our primary focus has been on securing liquidity. HSV - like all clubs and many other companies - was threatened with revenue losses for an unforeseeable period of time. We have all never experienced such a situation and there are then no ready-made solutions to counteract such a crisis. In the end, we succeeded in having sufficient liquidity at our disposal at all times. And in doing so, we have neither had to expand our debt nor have we had to bear a negative change in maturities or loan conditions. Last but not least, the solutions we found also succeeded in not having to deplete our equity cushion. Nevertheless, we would have liked to do without the experience of the pandemic.

What part did the two major individual measures, the sale of the stadium property and the granting of Corona aid, play in overcoming the challenges?

Without question, these two measures, in addition to the capital increase, were elementary for overcoming the crisis, especially with regard to future challenges. With these solutions, we were able to further reduce our debt and maintain our equity, which should be quite advantageous with regard to upcoming financing. Before I joined HSV, I had the opportunity to experience several creditor meetings and I am glad that we were able to refrain from them in this extreme situation.

Overall, HSV has seen a drop in turnover of more than 40 % compared to the previous year. In such a situation, is it possible to make savings on an approximate scale in operating expenses?

You cannot compare the 2020/21 season with the previous year, as we were already affected by the pandemic during that time. A comparison with the last season before the Corona pandemic, the 2018/19 season, seems more appropriate in order to quantify the full extent. In this comparison, the revenue of a season has been reduced by EUR 70 million. At the same time, however, operating expenses have been reduced by almost EUR 50 million. Without cost reductions, without far-reaching adjustments of all types of expenses, the crisis would not have been manageable.

Looking ahead, what do you expect in the current season?

I hope that we will continue to gradually approach the normality we are used to and that we will not experience any new restrictions. This season will also be marked by financial losses. Nevertheless, I hope that the next annual review will have to deal with sporting successes and not with the pandemic.

You yourself have informed the supervisory board that you will not be conducting this annual review, but will be stepping down from the board on 31 May 2022. What are your motives?

I think that after more than seven years on the board of HSV and with the foreseeable end of the biggest crisis in the post-war period, a suitable time has been found for both sides to go new ways. The crisis management in the team with the colleagues, which is also documented with this annual result, has clearly shown that HSV is well equipped in terms of personnel and organisation for the tasks ahead.

Thank you very much for the interview.