Berlin (dpa) – In the summer of 2019, Lars Windhurst surprisingly joined Hertha BSC. As a millionaire investor. Since then, things have gone downhill for German club Berlin.
The relationship between the well-known financial backer and club leadership was complex and tense. Windhorst doesn’t want to be discouraged by its long-term goals.
Which football position would Lars Windhurst fit as a person: goalkeeper, chief of defense, midfield strategist or goalscorer?
Lars Windhurst: I would say I’m a mixture of midfield and goalscorer, definitely a multi-maneuvering and attacking player.
How annoyed are you with defeats like the 1-0 defeat to Bayern? Does this feel like a personal defeat?
Windhurst: No, not exactly, but of course you are emotionally attached to the players and the club. I’m excited about it and when it comes to football it’s a new experience for me. It was the last time I watched the World Cup. Now I have it when Hertha BSC plays. The match against Bayern gives hope for more. I’m sure we’ll see that, too, in the next few weeks.
How do you keep up with your workload? Can you watch all matches?
Windhurst: Of course I can’t always watch games on TV or on iPhone. But I try it as much as possible. And if it doesn’t work, I look at the summary later.
They coined the term big city club. Was this a mistake?
Windhorst: The truth is, the term Big City Club describes Hertha as the soccer club in Germany’s largest city. Berlin is a global brand, a great platform and a great environment for a football club to develop positively and internationally. Obviously, getting an investor in an association like Herta means cultural change and a challenge that doesn’t go smoothly. This does not change the fact that I still believe that Berlin, as a large city and capital in Germany and Europe, justifies this synonym with Hertha BSC as the club.
Critics say Lars Windhurst’s commitment to Hertha will soon end. How long are you really planning?
Windhurst: It’s long-term. We can definitely imagine staying here for ten, twenty, or thirty years. There are also examples of other companies making a long-standing commitment to football, for example Juventus Turin with the Agnelli family. I would be glad if possible, that is definitely my wish. Nobody can predict the future, and neither do I, but my goal is to make a long-term commitment.
Peace be upon your heart. How many times have I regretted investing?
Windhurst: Not at all. I didn’t start expecting that Hertha BSC would make a huge initial public offering in twelve months, play in the Champions League and that I would have doubled my money. Of course there were certain hurdles, certain things that didn’t go as well as I had hoped. In the worst case, we have now lost a few months, but that does not mean that the long-term goals cannot be achieved.
The Supervisory Board Jens Lehmann requested more gratitude to you in the association’s bodies. Is he right?
Windhorst: The Hertha BSC as a traditional club has developed its own culture in its history. I come completely new from the outside. It is clear that two different cultures and mentalities collide. This took some time to get used to in many areas. I have been told a lot by financial investors or even by members of my group: What kind of investment, no profit, no success and nothing is determined? In the financial world, such an investment is unusual or even strange. I was far from it. But I saw the historic opportunity for this club to grow into something big in and with the city I love. I see the goons between the investor and the club management as a mutual investigation. It certainly could have gone further. But compared to the overall goal, the few obstacles can be overcome.
Does this mean that you are having trouble finding an investment in the financial sector?
Windhurst: Of course, an explanation is needed because – as I said – this investment is unusual from a financial investor’s point of view. But we totally stick to it. And we’re all just getting started.
With George Kofler, your quartet is complete. Carsten Schmidt is the new strongman in management. Will there be other changes to Herta’s team after the departure of Michael Pritz?
Windhurst: Of course, that’s a matter of club management. But I know from my own experience that there is always a need for improvement. One should not expect that a major breakthrough will bring about a few personnel decisions. This is now an important first step on a road that still means a lot of work for officials.
Will your participation end when the Hertha BSC are relegated to the second division?
Windhurst: I strongly assume we will not go. That’s why I don’t even think about it. I firmly believe in the quality of the team and a coach who can combine this quality in one unit. We’ll see that in the next few weeks. Hence, the question is not asked.
This seems very optimistic about the current situation. Other clubs have already been relegated, although no one wants to believe it.
Windhurst: Ask me if this should happen. But it won’t, so why do I deal with it today?
Even Union Berlin has overtaken Hertha. does it disturb you?
Windhurst: That’s impressive. It shows me how beautiful football is emotional. This should be viewed positively, it does not bother me at all. It is an absolute win for Berlin and Germany that we have two big teams playing in the Bundesliga. I would be happy if it stayed that way for the long term, until we have tough competition.
Is the 50 + 1 rule a big nuisance to you as an investor?
Windhorst: This is an unfortunately very emotional topic in a swamp right now in Germany. It is not black or white. Sure, there are examples where investors did not act 100% positively in favor of the association, but hurt it. But there are also many examples of positive developments from investors that have benefited clubs. Take a look at Great Britain, where the crowd’s perception of investors is very different from that of Germany. I would like my commitment to Herta, and our cooperation, to have a positive effect on this discussion here in the long term.
Fans continue to oppose abolishing the rule.
Windhurst: As an investor in Hertha, I don’t want to turn fans away or turn against me. Basically, we all have a common goal of pushing the club forward and enjoying football. And competition in football, which also includes finances, is not a negative thing. The competition is fun.
Many fear that the giver will rule.
Windhurst: Seriously, an investor is not the dictator who dictates everything from above. It’s about taking people with you, and motivating them to fight for a common cause. Even if we now have voting rights of 100 percent or 50.1 percent, as a financial investor I cannot simply judge or define permanently. I need the fans, the members, who are passionate about football and who support the club. As an outside investor, I cannot afford that.
Critics say you only invest in Herta for marketing reasons. Is this true?
Windhurst: No, it doesn’t matter at all for our other businesses. We don’t have the consumers as a target group, whom a broad audience would help.
Are more investments over the previously agreed 374 million euros necessary to achieve the Champions League goal?
Windhurst: You can’t predict that. Take a look at Frankfurt. They did not have any outside funding and would likely still reach the Champions League or the Federation, they had less money and had a place in the European Cup for the past few weeks.
Are new investments planned?
Windhurst: Nothing has been planned. We will support Hertha BSC in the long term and do our best to ensure the success of this project. We certainly did not commit ourselves to suffering a halfway loss.
We’ll take you to Hertha’s online fan store and treat you with a Pal Dardai shirt, Spree Athens fan’s scarf, or a cup of coffee with heraldry in all of Berlin’s districts. What would you choose?
Windhorst: I take my cup of coffee because I believe in Berlin in all its diversity, for sure.
About the person: Lars Windhorst (44) became a young German entrepreneur as a teenager. He flew around the world with Chancellor Helmut Kohl. The rise came after the crash until personal bankruptcy. Today he is active in international investment with his Tennor Group. He has been a sponsor at Hertha BSC since 2019.
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