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Telekom not main partner anymore: Bonner Baskets are looking for a new sponsor

Telekom not main partner anymore : Bonner Baskets are looking for a new sponsor

The Telekom Baskets will only be the Telekom Baskets until the end of the season. After 28 years of cooperation, the main sponsor is gradually withdrawing. The Bonn club is faced with many unanswered questions.

The wording of the press release is crafted with a fine blade: "Deutsche Telekom has prematurely extended its partnership with Telekom Baskets Bonn by three more years until 30 June 2025," reads the virtual sheet of paper published by the Bonn-based conglomerate at noon on Tuesday. Until then, it reads like the continuation of a reliable partnership. A partnership like there are not too many in sport.

For 28 years, the Baskets were inseparably linked with the Bonn-based company and the corporate colour magenta. Gone. Because after the first sentence comes the information that robs the Basketball Bundesliga club of its identity and, in the worst case, also threatens its existence. The club will already have to change its name after the current season and find a successor for the major sponsor, which has announced that it will gradually cut its funding until 2025. However, the amount is still to be in the seven-figure range in the 2024/25 season.

But this is also cleverly worded: "The new sponsorship agreement also includes the release of the naming rights to the Bonn Bundesliga club from July 1, 2022.“ Release. Sounds generous. If the chances of finding an interested party were not even more manageable than they already are in Bonn due to the pandemic.

The fact that the funds will be gradually cut and the name Telekom Baskets will disappear from the sporting map implies that the contracts will be terminated at the end of 2025. This interpretation of the GA in an initial report was promptly contradicted by Telekom: "That it is the last contract extension is wrong. No decision has been made on that yet," said Telekom press spokesman René Bresgen.

What are the consequences of the withdrawal?

At the Baskets, the headline "Telekom withdrawal after 28 years" sounds like a swansong with a combative footnote: "We very much regret this after 28 years of partnership," Wolfgang Wiedlich is quoted as saying. Not only as president, but as managing director of BonBas GmbH, the economic sponsor of all Baskets Bundesliga activities and owner of the Telekom Dome. "The Telekom Baskets would like to thank Deutsche Telekom AG for an unusually long partnership in basketball, which has noticeably revitalised Bonn as a sports location and created something great overall. The Baskets will fight to continue this," says Wiedlich.

According to the current contract, the naming rights to the Telekom Dome are still held by the company until 2030. That is not likely to make the search for a successor any easier. What sponsor would let his xy-Baskets play in the Telekom Dome, which already stands for a single company in terms of colour? And if he bought the naming rights, would all the magenta seats in the stands and the magenta tiles in the sanitary facilities have to be replaced?

"Significantly more than 80 million Euro" has been invested by Telekom in the "expansion and development of the basketball location Bonn", according to its own statement. "Now, we believe, it is time to allow fresh input from outside and to put the Baskets' sponsorship on a broader footing," says Michael Hagspihl, Head of Global Projects and Marketing Partnerships at Deutsche Telekom. "That's why we are freeing up the space as main and name sponsor from the next season. As one of the great traditional clubs in German basketball, the Baskets are certainly a highly attractive commitment for other companies as well.“

Why is Telekom cutting back on the Baskets?

Without deducting the sums for free courts and primary school challenges, this 80 million would be 2.76 million per year over 28 years. For comparison: FC Bayern (football) receives 35 million Euro per season, according to media reports, and since the summer the telecommunications giant has also been putting a total of seven million into 1. FC Köln for three years.

Certainly, the difference between general and location sponsoring has been pointed out again and again. As if site sponsorship were a pet project in the home town. Time and again, however, Timotheus Höttges, the chairman of the board of directors, has also referred to reliability and a long-term approach in this context. Most recently in a GA interview on October 27 on the occasion of the art exhibition in Bonn Minster: "A city like Bonn must be a liveable location in sports, in events and in high-quality art - including music. We invest in all these areas. That is our social responsibility. We are represented worldwide, but at no location do we do as much as here in Bonn. As a resident of Bonn, we are happy to contribute."

So, by its own admission, Telekom still sees itself at the location, not just as a global player. But why are they cutting back on the Baskets? Is it because of the sport? After two really difficult years, the "sporting flagship of Bonn" (Höttges in a GA interview in 2015) is on the right track again with a completely renewed team and a successful coach, is in third place in the table, thrills the fans and is the league leader in terms of spectator numbers.

"We very much regret Telekom's move"

As recently as 2015, Höttges saw the relationship between Bonn, Baskets and Telekom as untouchable. In an interview on the 20-year Bundesliga affiliation, the GA asked, "Many a Bonn fan fears that Telekom will sooner or later leave Bonn and sponsor not only football but also basketball on a grand scale in Munich. Is there any truth in that?" Höttges' answer: "That's nonsense. We are the main sponsor of Telekom Baskets, and we will stay that way. We think long-term, we have staying power." He pointed out that the naming rights contract for the hall had just been prematurely extended until 2030 and spoke of "responsibility that we want to assume for the Bonn location“.

The corporate giant's explanation for the change of heart: "The savings will flow directly into the largest infrastructure programme in the history of Deutsche Telekom, the nationwide provision of all households and company locations in Germany with a direct fibre-optic connection.“

We are probably talking about less than 2.5 million Euro a year, subtracting the amount that continues to go to the Baskets. In 2020, the telecommunications giant achieved record results with a turnover of more than 100 billion Euro and is considered a crisis winner in the pandemic in the German economy.

And what happens now on the Hardtberg? What are the next steps? Despite "all the frustration about the current decision", Wiedlich said, it should not be forgotten that the Baskets would not be where they are today without Telekom. "We very much regret Telekom's move." He has known about this decision for a while, but today he still does not know how the reduction of seven-figure Telekom funds can be replaced: "There are plans and strategies, but no facts yet."

(Original text: Tanja Schneider / Translation: Mareike Graepel)