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Bundesliga Can Survive Crunch, Says Hoeness, as UK Wobbles

Bayern Munich general manager Uli Hoeness sees the German Bundesliga holding firm against the global economic crisis. However, British soccer is holding its breath as the credit crunch starts to bite in its top flight.

A football on some Euro notes

Some leagues are better protected than others from the effects of the financial crisis

Hoeness was quoted in Friday's edition of the Bild newspaper as saying that German soccer is well off even though income may drop.

"I believe that German soccer has less to worry than other countries," said Hoeness. "The big question, however, is if we are moving into a recession where the advertising spending drops and companies are less inclined to pay money for sponsorship."

The German 1974 World Cup winner said that he was concerned for clubs in some other countries.

"Here and there clubs could go under, but not the big ones. Chelsea, for instance, has its debts with Abramovich, but they are not in danger because the club belongs to him. There is no bank involved that can close the club, as long as Abramovich does not demand his money back," Hoeness said. "One needs to see if the ice on which everything was built will last."

Uli Hoeness in a photo montage surrounded by Euro bank notes

We're in the money: Bayern and Hoeness are confident

Hoeness said that it was not certain that foreign investors in English soccer would continue investing such huge sums after losing a lot of money on the stock exchange.

"It would be good for competition if clubs in future actually had to earn the money they spent," said Hoeness.

He said that he was not concerned about his own club Bayern Munich, as they were financially "in a very strong position."

Meanwhile British soccer is holding its breath to see just how badly it will be affected by the collapse of many of the world's banks and the ever-worsening financial crisis.

British game suffering backlash

Once regarded in Britain as the people's game, the sport is now in danger of being torn apart, with several teams' sponsors already having gone down the pan.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United

Man Utd's sponsor AIG had to be bailed out in the US

Manchester United shirt sponsor AIG was bailed out by the US government, as was Newcastle United's shirt sponsor, Northern Rock, by the British government.

Work on Liverpool's new ground has been delayed as owners keep a close eye on exactly what is happening to their cash.

The overseas investment that had been looked upon as the ideal blueprint by many of the country's top clubs is now in danger of becoming the poisoned chalice. What good is investment, many clubs are asking themselves, if it can't be guaranteed?

Perhaps the one club most affected so far is West Ham United, the East London club for whom the collapse this week of Iceland's second biggest bank, Landsbanki, could yet spell disaster for their Icelandic owners and for their own future.

Rumors persist that the bank -- now under the control of the Iceland government -- could repatriate any overseas assets.

Icelandic troubles felt in London's East End

For that, read West Ham and their chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, who paid 85 million pounds for the club in November 2006 but who may yet be forced to put up the for-sale sign.

Icelandic investor Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson

Gudmundsson's West Ham is reeling from the Icelandic crunch

Gudmundsson, who was sacked as chairman of the bank on Tuesday, has stressed that the club is safe and claims that no players have to be sold.

But West Ham vice-chairman Asgeir Fridgeirsson said on Tuesday that players would have to go before any spending could happen in the January transfer window.

"West Ham United has one of the biggest squads in the Premier League," Fridgeirsson said on Tuesday. "It is very unlikely (the chairman) will be willing to put in more money to buy players this January window."

When he took over as manager in September, Gianfranco Zola had seemed confident that he would have money to spend in January.

West Ham told the DPA news agency on Wednesday that Zola has yet to request a meeting with the club's board and nor has one been arranged, but it would seem to be only a matter of time before the Italian requests clarification of the situation.

In a statement, placed on the club's official website on Tuesday, West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury reiterated that players would have to be sold before any new spending could be sanctioned.

"Since his appointment, Gianfranco Zola has made it quite clear that his first team squad is too large and needs to be reduced so he can effectively coach the team," the statement read.

"Once this has happened and if the manager requires further players, then the club will acquire them."

Hammers hammered by credit crunch

The collapse of Landsbanki followed hot on the heels of the implosion of their shirt sponsor, the tour operator XL, which went bust in September.

That cost the club an estimated 5 million pounds, and with Gudmundsson a guarantor of 163 million pounds to XL, West Ham's future looks less than rosy.

The West Ham story is just one sorry tale and if the crisis deepens, others could yet be affected in a similar way.

A man talks on his phone as he stands in front of a financial display board showing the FTSE 100-share index in central London, Monday, Oct. 6, 2008.

The LSE has been hit hard and British clubs have shuddered with the resulting tremors

The Football Association chairman Lord Triesman warned on Tuesday that the crisis could cripple some club who are heavily in debt, estimating that English clubs owe a total of 3 billion pounds.

And UEFA general secretary David Taylor has warned that clubs with huge debt could be excluded from future European competitions would see those clubs finances further depleted.

The biggest worry for West Ham is that the crisis may not yet have reached its lowest point and Fridgeirsson's words had a nasty ring to them on Tuesday.

"It is, of course, a blow for (Gudmundsson) and his financial strength, but he himself has a number of other investments that are doing quite well at the moment so there is no reason to fear that he will not honor his commitment to West Ham football club," he said.

"He (Gudmundsson) is not absolutely sure how this will directly affect him, but one thing he is sure of is that this will have no implications on the other investments of him and his family."

Time will tell.

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