Schalke thought its troubles were over once the Bundesliga restarted. The Gelsenkirchen-based club was facing insolvency with no football being played because of the coronavirus pandemic and had been pushing hard for the league to resume throughout its two-month suspension.
Schalke is sponsored by Russian energy giant Gazprom for a reported 30 million euros ($33 million) per season and the club reported turnover of 275 million euros ($301.5 million) in 2019. However, that was down from 350.4 million euros ($384 million) the year before and resulted in a net loss of 26.1 million euros ($28.6 million).
The club made no secret of its precarious situation as the pandemic put football on hold. “The situation is very serious and critical,” Schalke executive board member Alexander Jobst said in a live chat with fans.
Jobst had already written to holders of boxes in the stadium, asking them to waive the partial repayment of fees. “It’s about existence!” Jobst wrote on 17 March.
The league’s resumption without fans on 16 May could not have come soon enough for the club. But the team’s performances have not helped much.
Schalke lost to rival Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in its first game back, then 3-0 at home against struggling Augsburg, before Wednesday’s 2-1 the setback at relegation-threatened Fortuna Düsseldorf.
“The situation was partly to blame for that,” sporting director Jochen Schneider told Sky after the loss in Düsseldorf, where Schalke had taken the lead on a goal from American midfielder Weston McKennie.
Schalke finished with only 33% of the ball possession against the third-worst team in the league.
Including games before the pandemic-induced break, Schalke has now gone 10 Bundesliga games without a win. It is the club’s worst run in the league in 23 years.
Schalke has dropped to ninth place, five points behind Wolfsburg in the all-important last place for European qualification.
The club impressed in the first half of the season, but no team has been worse since the second half began.
“We can’t present ourselves like in the last three games,” said Schneider, who defended coach David Wagner. “It’s not right to blame everything on the coach. Everybody in the club is part of it. The criticism is critical for us all. We all have to do better.”
Schalke is likely to face more financial losses this season because of the pandemic, and they could increase unless the team can somehow pick itself up for the last six games and overtake in-form Wolfsburg for Europa League qualification.
The club hosts relegation-threatened Werder Bremen on Saturday before games against Union Berlin, Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Freiburg.