Thomas Treß, CFO of Borussia Dortmund, on the use of referees in the economy, about values in football, internationalisation and Financial Fair Play.
Thomas Treß, as Deputy General Manager, has been responsible for Finance and Organisation at Borussia Dortmund since 2006.in an interview with Tiding.
Tiding: Fair play is very important in sports and especially in football. Should such values also be respected more when it comes to the economy?
Thomas Treß: Fair play is a principle of Western culture: People should deal with each other reasonably and not overtax each other. This applies both in sports and in business. If you put too much of a burden on other people and only consider your own benefit, contracts generally don’t end up coming about or are not put into action.
A football match is controlled by a referee. Wouldn’t a referee also be desirable in economic life?
The referee in football is a part of the event. In our free, pluralistic, social market economy, we don’t need that. Basically, it’s all about the parties dealing with each other sensibly. In business, there are the courts, but they are only consulted if there really is no other way of resolving the problem. But that’s not the goal.
Hanse is very international. How much of a factor is internationalisation in the success of BVB?
Internationalisation is extremely important in football. Th is especially true for clubs like Borussia Dortmund, who are at the top of the Bundesliga and of course participate in international competitions. In football you cannot make money if you only take part in domestic competitions, so playing internationally is vitally important in order to be successful. On the other hand, for BVB it is also important to play not only in Germany, because the brand and the fan base of Borussia Dortmund know no boundaries. We have fans abroad, we have many foreign sponsorship partners, and we realise that Borussia Dortmund is becoming increasingly well known in other countries. We will therefore be opening an office in Singapore to handle the Asian market better. Our sponsors include names such as Huawei or Turkish Airlines, we also have Polish sponsors. And our football team is international. Football is a multicultural event, where all possible faiths and nationalities come together.
How does one deal with the international market?
Internationalisation is multi-layered: we must continue to develop the brand strategy and make clear the values of the brand itself and then communicate this in a way that is adapted to other countries and cultural areas. Only then will we achieve sustainable international success when it comes to marketing. To stay with the example of Singapore: We will have one of our staff members there work on establishing contacts to gain Asian sponsors and to increase the visibility of BVB in the Asian media.
You are considering what values you want the brand to project to the outside. What are those values compared with the other major brand in German football: Bayern Munich?
At the core of the Borussia Dortmund brand is the central component of intensity and around that many values such as being down to earth and honest, which are also naturally reflected here with the region. The things that make Borussia Dortmund special are its openness and ability to bring people together. Borussia Dortmund is a brand, a fan base that drives people rather than defining them. Borussia Dortmund does not focus on being opportunistic or polarising. Th is certainly the biggest difference to Bayern Munich.
You say that the essence of the Borussia Dortmund brand is intensity. What exactly do you mean by that?
Intensity is many things. It starts with the colours of Borussia Dortmund. They are black and yellow; you can’t really get a bigger contrast. Then we have an intense football experience at the stadium with 80,000 people, of which 27,000 are standing and 25,000 are in the south stands alone. All of this makes for a very intense experience in the football stadium.
Dortmund is an old Hanseatic city. Is that noticeable?
We have a different fan base than you might otherwise find in the Ruhrarea. Dortmund is less of a working-class city; there are more medium-sized businesses, there is more trade. Borussia Dortmund is not a workers’ team in the traditional sense, Gelsenkirchen and Schalke 04 lay more of a claim to that. The people around us are a bit different.