Uli Hoeness: So This Is The End?
“It isn’t over yet!” – with this sentence, spoken at an extraordinary plenary meeting in 2014, a tearful Uli Hoeneß announced his return for when he had served his time in prison. His return happened and since then, it has been suggested that he had missed the ideal moment for his departure many a time. His critics say that he has clung to power for too long, obstructing the club’s much needed transition to a new era.
There is no denying that not everything has been going smoothly since Hoeneß’s reassumed power. Some of this is due to the era of Uli Hoeneß entering its natural twilight, some of this he has to blame on himself and his sometimes questionable appearances in public.
However, Hoeneß has never been known for putting his own interests ahead of the club’s. A number of reports suggest that he had already thought about his resignation much earlier. Motivation, age, the club’s transition – all of this played a role for the long time Bayern mastermind. The negative reception he got at Bayern’s annual meeting in 2018 will also have firmed his resolve to step down soon.
Hoeneß might have wanted to step down but he had a big problem: he was not convinced that the people suggested to succeed him were fit for the job. Who would be equal to the challenge of leading and developing the club in his image? The footsteps he leaves behind, anyway, are huge. And so are the expectations of the new president.
Oliver Kahn is set to join the club in an executive role soon. Of course, he will not join Bayern as their new president. But if he is to assume an executive position, other resources will become free. Could Rummenige’s role grow to include the tasks of Hoeneß? At any rate, such a reshuffle of roles and responsibilities would certainly become a bumpy ride well into next year.
In Norbert Hainer, BILD has brought up a second candidate. The former Adidas CEO is currently a chairman of Bayern and a good friend of Uli Hoeneß. Whatever happens, if the reports are correct and Hoeneß about to step down, then he will have carefully evaluated his decision.
Hoeneß has been toying with the idea of resigning for years and when the moment finally comes, he will not leave his club behind unprepared. It is not unlikely that the 67 year old will continue to render important assistance behind the scenes after his departure – a role many Bayern fans hoped he would already assume after his time in prison. It is reassuring to know that Rummenige is going to stay at the club for at least the near future. Hoeneß knows the importance of this too. He has ruled out a scenario of the two of them leaving at the same time all along.
Whatever the plan, FC Bayern is set to undergo its most radical revolution in decades. As much as the number of fans demanding Hoeneß’s resignation might have soared in recent years, Hoeneß would undoubtedly have found a majority for a new term as president at the next AGM. This, too, might be a reason why so many people seem to be surprised by his announcement now.
It would be much more of a surprise, however, if Hoeneß did not have a master plan in mind of how the circumstances of his succession should be arranged. He knows that his is a big hole to fill. Even though his stature at the club and in public has somewhat diminished lately, the club would not have become what it did had he not been there. He has to carry out his final mission now. He has to implement his master plan. So that at this year’s AGM, five years after his legendary “it’s not over yet!”, he could finally say: “it IS over now.” It would be the appropriate end.
Translated by Alexander