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Finance

Sturm Graz seeking to buy home stadium

Featured image credit: SK Sturm Graz

SK Sturm Graz president, Christian Jauk, has said the Austrian Bundesliga club wants to buy its Merkur-Arena in order to make the improvements necessary to stage elite European football.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, has ruled that the stadium, which opened in 1997, is not suitable to host matches from the group stages onwards of its club competitions such as the Champions League.

Jauk told Kleine Zeitung: “We want to buy the stadium. We are deeply convinced that this will be the best solution economically for the population as a whole. And we believe that this will eliminate a large number of discussions and problems. It would be a win-win solution.”

The newspaper said Sturm intends to invest “an amount in the double-digit millions” for the purchase and acquiring of development rights, while the City of Graz would remain the owner of the land. The club could then carry out renovation work while also operating the venue.

Jauk said: “The City has decided on short-term measures that will close the gaps of the past. What is missing is investment in the future. This means that the sword of Damocles of the suspension – in the future also for the UEFA Europa League – will remain with us for the coming years.”

Jauk also believes that such a project would be achievable for the club financially. He continued: “It would be big if we were to put up a completely new stadium, like what happened in Vienna and Linz for both clubs.

“Because of the lack of support and loans, we would hit financial limits in the medium to long term. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not available for such adventures.”

Regarding a potential timeline for a deal to be reached, he added: “The political debate is therefore opened. It needs a basic commitment and a date, this vision should not become a never-ending story.

“At the moment I have the feeling that we are being stroked to death, invited to appointments, our work appreciated. But then they say: ‘You’re doing wonderfully anyway, but it’s not working at the moment.’”