The corona pandemic is far from over when mass sport is hit by the next crisis. Clubs and associations are threatened with massive effects, the fear of an energy lockdown is spreading.
Frank Fechner is concerned. “It’s an extremely difficult situation,” says the club boss from Eimsbütteler TV in Hamburg. First the corona pandemic, now the high inflation and above all the energy crisis, the consequences of which can hardly be foreseen: Fechner and his club are groaning under the enormous strain on popular sport.
“The biggest concern is the planning uncertainty of energy costs,” says Fechner and does the math: “We currently have to assume that energy costs will triple or quintuple. That can mean additional costs for our club of 500,000 to 700,000 euros, that’s a lot money for us.”
Contribution increases as a result of the energy crisis
And so, after four years at a stable level, the ETV is forced to raise its premiums by an average of 14 percent. Adults have to pay 28 euros instead of 24.50 from October 1st. It’s not just “a lot” of money for Fechner. “I’m almost uncomfortable that we have to increase the contributions so much after the corona pandemic,” said the first chairman, “but otherwise we can no longer cover the costs”.
The fate of the ETV, with its 16,500 members one of the largest sports clubs in Hamburg, and with the club’s own sports facilities, which you are responsible for maintaining yourself, is exemplary for the many associations and clubs, but also for the fitness studios in Germany. The system is threatened with collapse.
“We feel new existential needs”
“It will be difficult weeks and months because the immense costs will have to be passed on to the members,” said Prof. Dr. Theodor Stemper, Chairman of the Bundesverband Gesundheitstudios Deutschland eV: “During the pandemic, the fitness and health studios lost an average of 20 to 25 percent of the members. There is a danger that it will now be significantly more. We feel new existential needs.”
DOSB wants to prevent energy lockdown
The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) has long recognized the precarious situation. As early as July, the umbrella organization drew up a position paper aimed at preventing an energy lockdown for sport. Many clubs, especially the small ones, might not survive another forced break. Not to mention the physical and psychological consequences for people.
“We are very concerned that mistakes made during the corona pandemic, such as blanket closures, will now be repeated,” said Michaela Röhrbein, DOSB board member for sports development: “We should learn from the corona pandemic. that we do not take short-term ad hoc actions, but take smart measures.”
Röhrbein: Do not repeat the mistakes of the corona pandemic
According to Röhrbein, swimming pools, as has already been requested by the German Association of Cities, should not be closed in order to save energy costs: “We warn against this because we can see what the corona pandemic has done. Every sixth child has become fatter. Six percent of the Children suffer from obesity. 60 percent of children can no longer swim properly – in the end there is a risk of drowning.”
Rettig: Professional football should make its contribution
Andreas Rettig, former managing director of FC St. Pauli, meanwhile sees football as a social responsibility: “If energy rationing is currently being considered and households have to use it more sparingly, then professional football must also make its contribution,” demanded the 59 year old. For him it is incomprehensible “when the lawn heating and the floodlights are running at full speed in winter”. According to Rettig, an oil-powered lawn heating consumes around 2,000 liters of heating oil a day: “That’s about as much as a single-family house in a whole year. I think that you really have to rethink and be prepared here.”
Cold showers as a short-term measure
In the short term, the effects of the energy crisis are to be mitigated with uncomplicated measures such as lowering the temperature in swimming pools and sports halls or cold showers. At the same time, according to the DOSB’s wishes, the sports clubs should be able to benefit from energy cost relief flat rates. In the medium to long term, according to the umbrella organization, the many outdated systems would have to be modernized and brought up to the latest energy standards. The 476 million euros recently made available by the federal government for the renovation of municipal facilities will probably not be enough.
“Before the energy crisis, our demand was one billion euros per year. But now that will no longer be enough, we need at least this one billion per year over several years so that the 30 billion euros in the renovation backlog can be reduced,” said Röhrbein.
Fechner: “Need state aid”
Regardless of the long-term investments, Fechner is “convinced that we will need help, including state aid” to overcome this crisis as well. “People will have less money in their pockets,” he says in a calm voice and a thoughtful look, “and I very much hope that they don’t want to cut costs at the sports club”.
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Hamburg Journal | 04.08.2022 | 19:30 o’clock