The last 10 years have represented a massive downward spiral for Hamburger SV. Between 2002 and 2009 the club had qualified 4 times for the Uefa Cup and twice for the Champions League, but ever since things have gotten gradually worse. Sporting directors and coaches have been in and out of the door at an alarming pace over at the Volksparkstadion, but nothing seemed to be working out.
Last season’s relegation to the Bundesliga 2 seemed like a logical consequence of the years of mismanagement which had brought the club close to relegation on several occasions.
Ever since 2012 one name has been closely linked to the fortunes of the club. Klaus-Michael Kühne, owner of the transportation company Kühne+Nagel, has invested over 100 million Euros. In return the sugar daddy has been given 20.57% of the shares of the club.
Missteps and micro management – Kühne’s legacy so far
It all started with the return of Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutchman had been a brilliant player for the club during his first stint, causing Kühne to be desperate for his return in 2012. HSV themselves weren’t necessarily keen on bringing back their former star player, but in the end the club took Kühne up on his offer. Van der Vaart was brought back, funded by a loan granted by sugar daddy Kühne.
Ever since the 81-year-old has been a feature at the club. His loans have been floating the club over the years. Much of the money that has been invested into the club has been turned into shares, meaning that Kühne yields some influence at the club.
Over the years Kühne has gotten involved in the daily business of the club on a number of occasions. His close ties to Rainer Calmund and Volker Struth’s agency SportsTotal has seen a number of players being purchased against the will of coaches and sporting directors. Often times Kühne’s money was only available if the club followed his wishes.
Journalists Tobias Escher and Daniel Jovanov have gone as far as calling Kühne’s involvement at the club as “the original sin committed by the club” in their new book “Der Abstieg“. Former coach Thorsten Fink went as far as stating that Kühne represented a threat to the club. The former HSV head coach told Welt:
“He’s a fan who doesn’t have an awful lot of knowledge about football. Nevertheless, he gets involved in the daily business.”
Kühne himself has stated that his knowledge is limited, but over the years that hasn’t stopped him from forcing the club’s hands in important decisions. Despite the club’s current situation the billionaire doesn’t seem to take any blame for the current situation telling Welt am Sonntag:
“It’s dramatic to see how the club has collapsed. I’m staying a fan, despite the relegation to the Bundesliga 2.”
At the start of the new season Kühne wanted to invest more money into the club. All he asked in return was an increase in his number of shares in the club. HSV decided to leave the offer on the table. The club’s refusal didn’t go done too well with the sugar daddy, and he told Welt:
“I must discipline myself now. I want to get rid of my shares.”
Felix Magath wants to return
Getting Kühne out of the door might be a good thing for the club. His involvement at the club has created chaos over the years. However, so far the club hasn’t been able to sell their shares to any other big investors and Kühne might face the same problem.
As it turns out Felix Magath might be willing to get involved. The former player and coach told Sky that he wouldn’t mind helping his former club.
“The club isn’t on the right path. I can’t understand how the club wasn’t able to satisfy an investor like Mr. Kühne. From my point of view he represented a spot of good luck.”
It remains to be seen if Magath is going to buy Kühne’s shares.
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