German 2. Bundesliga football club DSC Arminia Bielefeld has claimed it is now effectively debt free after agreeing a deal to sell its SchücoArena stadium.
The sale of the 26,515-capacity venue represents the final significant part of a major restructuring project Arminia has been undertaking. With debts of almost €30m (£26.1m/$33.9m) a year ago, the club was faced with the removal of its licence by the German Football League (DFL) and ultimately bankruptcy.
Arminia has claimed it has managed to cut over €26.5m of this debt in the space of a year through a three-pronged strategy that has included the sale of the SchücoArena, its home since 1926. The new owner of the SchücoArena will be the Bündnis Alm entity, whose shares are split 50-50 between 3BO, a group of local real estate experts, and STBO.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but Arminia will now rent the stadium from Bündnis Alm at a reported fee of around €800,000 per year whilst the club remains in the 2. Bundesliga. The initial 15-year agreement includes the right for Arminia to reacquire the stadium after five years.
Hans-Jürgen Laufer, Arminia president, said: “This is a historic day for Arminia Bielefeld. The fact that we were able to complete the restructuring project within one year fills me with great pride. But we also see this success as an order to deal responsibly with the finances of the association.”
Maurice Eschweiler, a board member for DMG MORI, part of the STBO group, added: “We all share the common goal of making DSC a sustainable, sporting and financially successful club.
“We do not see ourselves as a typical group of investors, but consider Arminia Bielefeld as one of the biggest advertising platforms for Ostwestfalen-Lippe and want to join the club in their own typical East-Westphalian way. We will also profitably bring in our many years of entrepreneurial know-how.”
Image: Rüdiger Müller