A look back: Borussia Dortmund’s remarkable financial recovery

As one looks at the current Borussia Dortmund team nobody would have been able to understand the financial struggles they endured. The club was one the verge of bankruptcy and would have been no more if it weren’t for the love and passion of certain individuals. The eight-time Bundesliga champions’ meteoric comeback from the ashes is a tale that went down in history.

The Cause

Back when Borussia Dortmund had won their first ever UEFA Champions League trophy in 1997, the players began demanding higher wages. The club also began shopping for players due to the wealth accumulated from a golden era in the 1990’s. Big money transfers such as Evanilson and Thomas Rosicky left the club spending more than they earned despite being on the stock exchange, partnering with chemical companies, soft drink companies and internet startups. But that was only the beginning of it.

And after the successful 2002 Bundesliga campaign, Dortmund’s ridiculous spending eventually came back to bite them.  During the 2003-2004 campaign, the club had amassed a total debt of 100 million pounds. The club was desperate enough to accept a 2 million pound loan from arch-rivals Bayern Munchen. Despite it only being a minor sum it was an honorable gesture and Hans Joachim Watzke made it a number one priority to pay them back. The club, however, was still in shambles and the problems were only growing.

This led to the club’s president stepping down and everybody knew the existence Borussia Dortmund was at was at stake. And by the end of the 2003-2004 campaign, the future of Dortmund was to be decided on the 14th of March 2005. Four hundred and forty-four investors attended a meeting to hear a Dortmund representative. The difficult task of convincing the investors that the money that they had loaned could not be paid back due to the clubs mass debt. The club had designed a bailout plan and the investors gave the club more time.  The investors agreed and Borussia Dortmund lived to fight another day.

DORTMUND, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 12: Fussball : 1. Bundesliga 04/05, Dortmund, 12.02.05;Borussia Dortmund – VfL Bochum;Fan-Demonstration vor dem Spiel auf dem Friedensplatz in Dortmund (Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Recovery

Investing in youth:

Turning the club around from their financial state was a huge task. There were many changes put in place to make sure that the club was back on its feet. The most major one of them was their approach to signing players. Dortmund had learned from their previous mistakes that buying expensive and experienced players would hit the club hard financially. Of course, there was a risk of investing in youth. Hanging on to them and giving them were obstacles that Dortmund had managed to overcome. Borussia Dortmund still invest in young talented players leaving them to be a team for the future. Now we say various players in the squad such as Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa, Christain Pulisic, and Nuri Sahin.

,  NUREMBERG, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 26: Nuri Sahin of Borussia Dortmund celebrates after he scored 2-0 during the Bundesliga match between 1. FC Nuremberg and Borussia Dortmund at the Franken Stadium on November 26, 2005 in Nuremberg, Germany. (Photo by Jan Pitman/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A change in management:

Another factor that affected the rise of Borussia Dortmund was the appointment of Hans-Joachim Watzke. He steered the club from bankruptcy with a step by step process to put Dortmund’s financial struggles in the past. After poor financial management, Watzke made paying off any debt a huge priority while still managing the affairs of the club. After years of patience and resilience, Watzke’s vision of a successful and financially stable Dortmund came to be.

DORTMUND, GERMANY – AUGUST 15: Hans-Joachim Watzke, Chairman of the management of Borussia Dortmund GmbH and KGaA speaks during the general meeting of Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund on August 15, 2006 in the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Jurgen Klopp era:

And finally one of Dortmund’s most loved characters and one of the best personalities in world football: Jurgen Klopp. The ex Mainz man was set to replace Thomas Doll at the Signal Iduna Park and change Borussia Dortmund forever. He was facing challenges straight off the bat such as a working with a limited budget, players having their wages cut, and developing youth. Klopp brilliantly bought attractive attacking football to Dortmund and used young players whenever he had the chance. In fact, Dortmund’s famous Champions League final squad was worth less than 35 million. And their squad’s average age in a crucial victory against Bayern was 22 back in 2011.

His charisma and passion for the club made him a beloved figure at the Signal Iduna Park. He had turned games around and went above and beyond for Borussia Dortmund. Winning the club two back to back Bundesliga titles, the DFB Pokal, and two DFL super cups. Not to mention the historic 2013 Champions League season that really put Borussia Dortmund back on the map.

Dortmund’s head coach Juergen Klopp celebrates after the UEFA Champions League Group D football match BVB Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid in Dortmund, western Germany on October 24, 2012. Dortmund won the match 2-1. AFP PHOTO / PATRIK STOLLARZ (Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images)

It wasn’t all perfect for Klopp. His last season with Dortmund was a disaster which reminded the club that they are still a side that can be beaten by any team. And that’s what happened when in the 2014/2015 Bundesliga season. Dortmund found themselves at the bottom of the Bundesliga season going into the winter break. Klopp called for a rally and ordered the squad to attend a Christmas party. Klopp sent a message to the players as follows: “‘Don’t think for a second this is optional”.

Dortmund ended up finishing in 7th place which took them to the Europa League qualifiers. Only to be knocked out next year by Klopp at Liverpool. What a guy. That was Klopp’s final season with the club and he has remained in the supporters hearts even to this day.

A new Borussia:

Borussia Dortmund now find themselves financially stable and thriving. The club has come a long way and it has definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions. The 81,000 fans that flock the Signal Iduna Park every other week can no longer having to worry about their financial issues which brought the club down for so long. With a revenue of 332,6 million euros in 2016/2017 Borussia Dortmund are here to stay.


Borussia Dortmund are worth falling in love with

      –Jurgen Klopp