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Göttlich: "Football has a credibility problem"

Club president Oke Göttlich took stock of the current situation in conversation with the media on Friday. Among the topics discussed were the on-pitch development and the credibility problem impacting the professional game.

Oke Göttlich on...

...the on-pitch development at FCSP:

"What we delivered on the pitch in 2022 isn’t enough. That's clear to everyone inside the club and it's one of the major headings for the discussions and analyses we conduct with each other. Analyses are needed all the time. You can only go into such analyses with clarity, opposition and controversy. The analyses we do are not premeditated. We pay no heed to majority opinions or popularity. It's only ever about how we achieve our goals. We definitely didn’t achieve them in 2022. Statistically, we limit the opposition to very few attempts on goal and we have a lot ourselves, but the results aren't there. It's a very difficult analysis when you do lots of things right statistically and see a cohesive team, but the results don't come. We'll have a very intensive discussion about why we’re having such a hard time overcoming opposition or adversity - i.e. when we face rugged teams or fall behind. We haven't come from behind to win in a very long time, and we haven't won away from home in a very long time. FC St. Pauli has always stood out by being activist and having an opinion and by the way we tackle resistance – both in society and on the pitch. That's what we lack at the moment, i.e. punch. It's not about whether our director of sport and head coach are popular or unpopular. The fact is the results aren't there. And this is being discussed in no uncertain terms. It's now up to the football management and the entire football setup to come up with solutions as to what needs to change now. When they're on the table, decisions will be made and action taken. The analysis is different from the one two years ago. The team had to be completely overhauled then, which is not the case now. We've dominated 13 or 14 games out of 17, but haven't got the results. The question is how do we play ugly football occasionally yet win more games?"

...the development of the squad:

"We have three pillars: the club, professional football and business. In the last eight years, the player budget has always been kept at least at the same level - and even increased during the Covid years. That’s one reason for the current discontent. We could certainly have brought in another striker in the summer, but at what price? Timo and Andreas are also clear that Igor Matanović is the one they're counting on to score goals. That hasn't worked so far, though we're not blaming Igor for that, we continue to back him. Is that now a mistake by Timo, or a mistake by Andreas or by Oke Göttlich? In the last three years, we've brought in more good players who have been a help than players we've let go again quickly."

...the challenges facing the professional game:

"Professional football in general not only has a credibility problem, it has a competition problem. The football business is turning people away from the game. This is a challenge for FC St. Pauli, too. It can't be taken for granted that we can ride on a wave of spectators and the TV money will continue to flow as before. Football must be careful not to lose its credibility. At the moment, it's doing everything it can to put its credibility in doubt. The "Boycott Qatar" banners are a demonstration by the fans that they don't agree with what's happening in professional football, from FIFA and UEFA to the DFL and the DFB. This is a huge threat to the economic viability of the professional game. I don't understand why many officials don't see this threat. The answer is almost always the same: that we need more investors and more money to compete internationally with other clubs who are backed by sovereign wealth funds or against other sports and leagues like the NFL, the NBA or the Premier League, which have a completely different monetary system behind them. Our answer is not money, but fair competition with clear rules. Our two leagues are so attractive because people want to know how HSV get on against FC St. Pauli, no matter which particular players are playing for them. The money distributed in international competitions is ruining the domestic leagues because it almost always goes to the same clubs."

...the World Cup in Qatar:

"The World Cup in Qatar is a systemic error in the award process from which the right conclusions now have to be drawn. The World Cup is a magnifying glass on a region and how we come to terms with it and on what position we take from it politically, socially and in our families. In future, human rights standards should be mandatory criteria when awarding major sporting events. Recent major sporting events such as the World Cup in Russia or the Olympics in China have not led to more stable political relations and the strengthening of human rights."


"A decision has to be taken before the new round of licensing, i.e. by 15 March, on how to deal with the clubs who have been exempt from the 50+1 rule so far. Otherwise, there'll be complaints from clubs who have complied with the licensing criteria. I think we're making good progress to present a solution to the Cartel Office."

...the topic of sustainability:

"Sustainability is now a 'licence criterion light'. That was a huge battle. The opportunities for meeting the requirements differ widely among the 36 professional clubs. This has be taken into account. There's now a transitional year until the requirement goes live. There'll then be sanctions if the criteria are not met, but no revocation of the licence. That would come a year later. For us, this is the right step. Specifically, binding sustainability targets will be imposed on clubs and sustainability indicators assessed. The next criteria are defined on that basis. In addition, one person has to be responsible for the sustainability topic and evidence of a sustainability budget must be provided. The costs associated with implementing the sustainability targets can run into the hundreds of thousands. That's already hurting second-division clubs. From 2023 onwards, we at FC St. Pauli will also draw up a common good balance sheet."

...the inner-city stadium and treatment of fans:

"We're one of the very few clubs allowed to have a stadium in the middle of town. It's a huge privilege we have to safeguard. That requires ongoing discussions with a wide range of groups and authorities. Even though we’ve strongly criticised the police and the Department of the Interior for the police operation we witnessed in the immediate vicinity of the ground before the local derby against HSV, which was definitely a sign of police brutality that took place right next to our "living room", we’ll have a meeting with the authorities, the DFL and HSV in early December where we'll discuss the subject of police presence in very general terms. The police presence at away matches is a fundamental issue. Recent findings from Baden-Württemberg indicate that a smaller police presence leads to fewer interventions and less trouble from fans. The key aspect here is to save on resources, i.e. taxpayers' money and police overtime."


Photos: Witters