In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, Volkswagen had been caught lying about emissions standards in their diesel powered cars in order to improve fuel mileage. As a result, Volkswagen have been fined billions, have had to reimburse and pay back billions in lawsuits and take a huge PR hit in which they may not recover from.
The “Dieselgate” scandal can have a lasting effect on the soccer world, particularly in the Bundesliga. Volkswagen sponsors multiple teams within the Bundesliga as well as own Wolfsburg and has the naming rights to their stadium. What happens to them?
Well, while there is a report saying that multiple teams were going to have their sponsorships cut, including Hannover, Werder Bremen, Schalke and 1860 Munich, Volkswagen have denied they will stop sponsorship completely but didn’t comment on if they would cut back. Wolfsburg was not mentioned in the cuts even though Volkswagen invests the most money into Wolfsburg than any other team.
Considering the company has lost billions and has needed to resort to cutting $1 billion in spending, one easy target is in sponsorship and marketing. Sure, Volkswagen will still want to advertise because they need to in order to get positive PR back and get people to trust the company again, but is owning a soccer team meeting those needs? You can at least make an argument that being a shirt sponsor or advertising on the boards surrounding the field will help with exposure and marketing but team ownership is a different and more expensive beast in itself.
Owning a soccer team is great and all but most people, or in this case a company, don’t get into soccer team ownership in order to make money. Thanks to Bundesliga rules regarding revenue and spending, Bundesliga teams aren’t heavy in debt. But even so, new owners still shouldn’t go in expecting steady profits. If Volkswagen needs to cut $1 billion, selling Wolfsburg can tremendously help with that and thus save other critical things needed to stay in business from being cut. It’s unknown whether Volkswagen will do that but if they’re desperate enough, maybe they’ll listen if someone decides to put in an offer.