Image: GEPA pictures
In terms of sport, Austria indulges in Art Nouveau, but behind the scenes the Viennese plague contaminated sites. Next Wednesday will be the next deadline for the financially troubled club. The Bundesliga expects Austria to provide the annual financial statements and a liquidity report for the current season. The violets take advantage of an extension of the deadline by five days. It is becoming increasingly clear that an investor should relax the distribution group.
Gerhard Krisch said before the 2-2 draw against Admira on Saturday evening, Gerhard Krisch was working “at full speed” to submit the required documents to the league. “The league is sure to look very carefully because of the history. In Viennese language: It is not a cooked Oktoberfest,” said the board of Austria to the APA. He also confirmed that the search for external donors is vigorous.
“In the meantime I have had many discussions with various interested parties. Signing a contract with an investor will take a while. But our goal is to achieve a commitment in principle by the end of the year at the latest,” reported Krisch. In an interview with Sky, he spoke of ten potential investors who were contacted. Among them is the Spaniard Ivan Bravo. The businessman was once active in strategic planning at Real Madrid and then moved to the Aspire Academy in Qatar. There he is still active as general manager.
The entry of an investor – Austria can sell up to 49.9 percent of the AG shares – was a big topic in Vienna-Favoriten a year ago. A flashback: In November 2020, the league's annual report revealed that Austria had accumulated liabilities of 78 million euros. In the 2019/20 season alone, the “Veilchen” wrote a loss of 18.8 million euros. The lifestyle group Insignia was presented last March as a savior in dire need. Talks with Bravo are said to have been broken off before.
Little has remained of Insignia's grandiose announcements. The financial commitments of the “strategic partner” were apparently never kept. The license was only obtained at the second attempt thanks to financial resources from the “Friends of Austria”. It is rumored to be rumbling behind the scenes. Markus Kraetschmer had negotiated the Insignia contract, the employment relationship with Krisch is undercooled. The Georgian partner around patron Michael Surguladze is said to have tried to stir up a mood against the board within the club. As the “Kurier” (Saturday edition) reported, only the chairman of the board of directors Robert Zadrazil – chairman of the board of Austria's lender Bank Austria – and his deputy Andreas Rudas want to stick to the deal with Insignia.
After all, talks are now under way again. “One goal is to get the sponsorship contract, which has meanwhile been discussed for a long time, under one roof. We have not yet succeeded in doing this,” reported Krisch. “If you can't find a solution, you have to think about an exit.” The contract with Insignia was initially concluded for one year, so a separation would not be possible until spring 2022 at the earliest.
Krisch has been in office for almost six months. On May 1, he took up the board position together with Kraetschmer. Two months later, the club parted ways with its longtime manager. Krisch's summary of the past months: “I knew that it would be a challenging task. I now have a good overview of where Austria is economically today.” Now it is time to take action.
“We have been looking at possible solutions in the last few months and now we have to work on them vigorously,” said Krisch. In addition to looking for a financier, Austria has to create stability and balance its operational business positively. In addition, work is underway to raise money through local sponsors – the “Friends of Austria” – according to the model of Vice President Raimund Harreither. Krisch knows one thing: “Of course, the contaminated sites will still be with us for the next few years.”
The view of the field gives hope. There the 17-year-old Ziad El Sheiwi presented himself against Admira as Austria's youngest starting XI since the Bundesliga was introduced in 1974. Austria also needs time in the sporting field to continue on the path of the youth. In view of the fifth home game without a win this season, coach Manfred Schmid demanded more patience: “Basically, I feel a positive mood that the fans are also enjoying the path. Even if one or the other is disappointed shortly after the final whistle. The fans are already convinced that something can arise here. “