Clemens Tönnies, president of the Schalke 04 Supervisory Board, resigned all of his positions at the club on Tuesday during pressure from supporters groups and the controversy that emerged after a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse on his property.
Tönnies was considered by many to be the ‘strong man’ of Schalke and supported the club with credits in tough financial circumstances on many occasions.
Ultra-fan groups’ dissatisfaction with Tönnies started before the pandemic when the official delivered a speech at a businessmen’s conference that was perceived as racist.
On that occasion, Tönnies said that instead of placing pressure on the energy tax industry, African power plants needed to be built so that Africans would avoid felling trees and turn up children at night due to lack of electricity.
Tönnies later apologized and the matter appeared to be shelved but was recalled again after the deplorable conditions came to light in which employees at a meat processing firm he owned worked, considered the largest in Germany.
Most of the workers at the Tönnies Company come from Eastern Europe and live in collective accommodation with hygienic conditions that may have unleashed a coronavirus outbreak and forced new restrictions to be introduced at two locations in the area.
Since 2001 Tönnies has headed the Board of Supervisors of Schalke. Schalke has since won the German Cup three times, has been the German runner-up five times, and has played in the Champions League for ten seasons.
Today Schalke is facing an economic and sports crisis. The squad has failed to win a single of the season’s last 16 games, relegating it to twelfth place in the standings.
Schalke had debts of 197 million euros at the end of 2019 and the economic situation has deteriorated due to the coronavirus.
Among the steps considered was resorting to a loan from Tönnies but it was ruled out. No consideration is being given to the possibility of a State guarantee for a bank loan.