By Robert Matiebel
After 14 years as Hertha president, Werner Gegenbauer (71), originally elected until 2024, resigned on Tuesday. Now he is talking for the first time about Zoff with investor Windhorst.
BZ: Why are you resigning prematurely?
modbonde: “I served as chairman of Hertha BSC on a voluntary basis for 14 years. My work is done. I will pass the baton on now and start a fresh start. At the urging of many members, I rejoined the presidency in 2020 to ensure stability after our investor came on board. Now I want to start a new era at Hertha BSC. And I also want to set new priorities in my private life that I need more time for. ”
BZ: Did you give in to criticism from Hertha investor Lars Windhorst, who publicly called for your downturn in March?
modbonde: “I made my personal plans a long time ago. And I would like to state that there is no conflict between Gegenbauer and Windhorst. There is a conflict between Tennor Group as our investor and the Hertha BSC club. This must be pacified and resolved. “
BZ: What is this conflict about?
Gegenbauer: “Primarily two things: influence and money. I made it clear from the start that I am the chairman of the Hertha BSC members. I only owe you. And that’s why I made sure we’re always in full control, even if we’re an investor. I subscribed to the 50 plus 1 rule. And that means that ultimately it is Hertha BSC and its committees and departments that make all the decisions. This applies to strategic, structural and, of course, personnel decisions. It is therefore no coincidence that Windhorst’s actions primarily openly attacked the President and covert attacks on CFO Ingo Schiller. Both stood in the way of his goal of influencing staff and strategic decisions. ”
BZ: And the conflict over money?
modbonde: “We tried to take Tennor with us in all decisions. Far beyond our contractual obligations. At the same time, we naturally expect Tennor to meet its obligations – and pay for its shares in Hertha BSC KGaA in accordance with the contract and on time. Unfortunately, this did not happen very often, which caused a lot of turbulence in the entire club’s planning and especially in the licensing department. It was my duty to demand compliance with Tennor’s treaties. To protect Hertha BSC. ”
BZ: Windhorst accused you of burning his money and not informing him of the use of the funds.
modbonde: “This claim, like many others, is false. Hertha BSC KGaA recently commissioned an independent auditor to audit the use of funds from the investment and shareholder agreement with Tennor Holding. The result is that the necessary approvals were given for all transactions that require approval, and there are no indications of breach of duty in connection with the use of the own funds provided by Tennor. In short: everything went correctly. Those are the facts. “
BZ: After the clashes, a group of fans put up a poster demanding: ‘Out of Windhorst and Gegenbauer’.
modbonde: “Reading it hit me. Criticism and strife are part of a lively association. But the rules of the game must be fair. And respect for others must be maintained. ”
BZ: There was only a narrow reaction from the Executive Committee to the public attacks on you by Lars Windhorst. Not much for the president’s defense, right?
modbonde: “I was very pleased with the opinion of the Executive Committee. She documented our solidarity, you do not have to say many words. Why other bodies and people have remained silent speaks for itself. “
BZ: In which state is Hertha BSC due to the conflict with Tennor?
modbonde: “The latest statements from Lars Windhorst have led to a split in the Hertha family that has never existed before. It must be the goal of everyone involved to get back together.”
BZ: Is your termination a first step towards that? After all, Windhorst no longer wanted to work with you and accuses you of retaining power and negotiating.
modbonde: “You can see now what my presumed position of power looks like. And if the constructive and trusting collaboration between me and the Executive Committee, all committees, departments and staff of Hertha BSC is described as ‘cheating’, then Mr Windhorst has still not understood the nature of our club. We Herthaners stick together. We certainly quarrel too, perhaps too often, but we agree on the matter. The best for Hertha BSC. This principle has guided me in everything. “
BZ: How should the new president be?
modbonde: “It must be decided by the members. I would like a Hertha resident who will settle the existing conflicts, who will unite all stakeholders, and who, based on the solid foundation created by the current Executive Committee, will lead Hertha BSC to a successful future in their own stadium at Olympic reasons. The conditions for this are good, believe me. ”
BZ: On May 29, Hertha is threatened with a turbulent general meeting. Among other things, there is a vote against the entire presidency.
modbonde: “Hertha BSC has over 40,000 members, the vast majority of whom are moderate people who love their club, find a home in it and want to celebrate its success with it. Hopefully this majority will be very aware of who is in charge of Hertha BSC. I very much hope that the future chairman will come from the middle of our association. “
BZ: What was your best decision?
modbonde: “To raise 374 million euros from Tennor Group. Without the need for Hertha BSC to relinquish significant decision-making powers. ”
BZ: Do you not regret the tumult it has caused?
modbonde: “No. I would do it again. Firstly because Hertha BSC urgently needed this money for change as a club and business. Without this money we would be worse off. And secondly because I believe in the benefits of an investment The first three years were tough. Tennor expected a lot from Hertha BSC, its members and staff. But we at the club have always kept our commitments, even though it was publicly stated otherwise. I am optimistic that the collaboration will be quieter and more harmoniously in the future. ”