Sports world calm amid financial market turmoilOctober 22nd, 2008 - 9:16 am ICT by IANS
Hamburg, Oct 22 (DPA) With banks battling for survival, markets reporting takeover scrambles and company directors facing penalties for bad performance, it seems trade floors and commerce chambers are beating sports pitches and locker rooms for sheer drama these days. The world of sports - as yet - appears remarkably unaffected by the global market crisis.Tennis player Andrea Petkovic at least is keeping her focus firmly on her fitness, not on finances.
“To be honest, the economic crisis has not affected me at all,” the 21-year-old said.
Petkovic is currently in Italy, trying to return to top form after rupturing the cruciate knee ligament in January at the Australian Open.
After sitting out almost eight months, training and matches, and not so much money, are the top priority of the former top 100 player.
Jens-Peter Hecht, a former spokesman of the German tennis federation who nowadays runs his own public relations and marketing agency, has also remained calm in the face of global financial turmoil.
“The crisis has not hit me,” says the 62-year-old from the northern German town of Lueneburg.
Tennis officials have also said in recent weeks they do not expect global sports to take too big a hit from the worldwide financial crisis.
“We have to be concerned. But sports tends to be recession-protected. There is always a lot of investment into sports,” the head of the WTA tour, the governing body of women’s professional tennis, Larry Scott, said.
Nonetheless, the WTA title sponsor Sony-Ericsson reported third-quarter losses of 23 million euros ($30 million) last Friday as turnover dropped 10 percent to 2.8 billion euros.
In football, West Ham United owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson said he remained committed to the English club although he was a major stakeholder in Iceland’s Landsbanki which had to be nationalised in mid-October.
The London club may have to reduce its roster but is also reportedly close to signing a new lucrative shirt sponsor deal.
English clubs have not yet suffered despite foreign ownership, but could be hit by a possible recession leading to less money from advertising and sponsorship, according to observers.
“The big question is if we are moving into a recession where the advertising spendings drops and companies are less inclined to pay money for sponsorship,” said Uli Hoeness, the general manager of German champions Bayern Munich.
And where this risk is concerned, the future for Germany’s number one club Munich is as unclear as that of lower-league amateur side Hansa Lueneburg, where Hecht is involved.
Nonetheless, Hecht remains cautiously optimistic in his northern German town near Hamburg.
“The big companies would be more affected. We have small local sponsors. They would not immediately feel the impact,” he says.
Hecht has seen the rise and fall of German tennis: He was the spokesman for German tennis association DTB in the heydays of Boris Becker and Steffi Graf when big money was generated, but he also saw tennis incomes fall dramatically once the icons retired and no new stars appeared.
The ardent golfer is still responsible for the tournament magazine of the Hamburg tennis tournament which recently lost its prestigious Masters Series status and was downgraded to a tier two event. Production of the magazine largely depends on sponsors.
Apart from tennis, Hecht has organised motorcycle events in Kiel, was the venue media officer in Hanover at the 2006 football World Cup and is in talks about becoming venue boss in Wolfsburg at the 2011 women’s World Cup.
But while his sports involvement remains promising, he says his non-sports activities such as PR workshops for local businesses may suffer in case the economy declines.
“Things can happen quickly. The companies may say ‘lets scrap this or that’. I may see it in seminars organised with the chamber of commerce,” says Hecht.
Hecht said he was “thankful” that he has not been hit by the crisis.
He was also glad about taking on a more active role with Hansa Lueneburg where he was getting more involved in the club board. “I will be looking after the money, that it is not being spent in the wrong way,” he added.