Today, (Monday, 14.11.2022), saw 1. FC Union Berlin e.V.’s Annual General Meeting, at the Tempodrom in Berlin.
President Dirk Zingler, presenting the board’s report, presented signs of impressive growth of the club in all areas, including membership numbers.
"As of today, there are 48,364 members belonging to the Union family. For a member-led club like Union, there is no greater sign of trust than people joining and committing to the club in this way."
Thanks given to staff and supporters of the club
Zingler opened by thanking the club's 351 employees and 480 footballers, represented on stage by the squad of the men's team, with director of professional football Oliver Ruhnert and head coach Urs Fischer, alongside the women's team and their head coach Ailien Poese, as well as numerous other officials and board members.
"Our club can only continue to develop if all its departments strive to make each other better and better,” said Zingler. “The extraordinary success of our men’s team has opened up many excellent opportunities, which we want to use both economically and organisationally so as to take the next steps in our sporting development."
He then expressly mentioned in his thanks the Honorary President Günter Mielis who, at the age of 97, could not be present in person, but still is an important figure in club life, and remains as ever an important discussion partner for the Executive Committee.
Mielis addressed the general meeting via a greeting read out by Union honorary member Margrit Lehmann.
Zingler also gave moving words of thanks for Michael Schneider, the deputy mayor of Köpenick, and District Councillor for the Environment, Green Areas and Housing from December 2001 to October 2011, who died far too early this year. Schneider was crucial in enabling Union to take over the stadium in 2008, allowing the club to be able to renovate it on its own.
"It is thanks to Michael Schneider that considerable resistance in the Berlin Senate and the Köpenick administration at the time was overcome, and that we now have a home. Without his courage, nothing that we are talking about today would exist."
Increase in turnover and record profits
Zingler reported to the 2,329 members present on several huge leaps in development in all commercial areas at the club. The key economic figures for 1. FC Union Berlin e.V. and its subsidiaries were as such:
In the 2021/22 season, Union recorded revenues of €122.137 million - an increase of €49.3 million on the previous season. With the highest recorded revenue in their history, Union achieved record profits of €12.685 million. The negative equity capital was reduced by €12.763 million, while liabilities decreased by €10.025 million.
Union plan to continue these positive developments throughout the current 2022/23 season. The prospective income amounts to around €157 million, with an expected consolidated surplus, calculated at €20 million. This will be the first time that Union will report positive equity, planned to be around €4 million as of 30. June 2023.
With regard to the performances of 1. FC Union Berlin’s men’s first team, who qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Europa Conference League in the 2021/22 season via the play-offs, finished 5th in the Bundesliga, and reached the DFB Pokal semi-finals, Zingler said,
"We never saw their success as leading to a triple burden as such, but instead approached the three competitions with pride and joy. The entire club was focused on success and their performance has thrilled us all. It also showed once again how important sporting success is for the economic performance of the club. Despite difficult circumstances due to the pandemic, we have managed to reach a new plateau economically and to catch up with the competition."
Presidium, Supervisory Board and Honorary Council discharged
In accordance with its statutory responsibility, the Supervisory Board approved the annual financial statements and discharged the Presidium for the 2021/2022 financial year. By a majority vote, the General Assembly approved the discharge of the Supervisory Board and the Honorary Council.
New Supervisory Board elected
A list of seven candidates was elected by a large majority, including the existing members Thomas Koch, Jochen Lesching, Karlheinz Nolte, Dr. Dirk Fischer, Dr. Christoph Schulte and Björn Böhning. Marvin Kretzschmar was newly elected to the club's supervisory body. He had been nominated as a candidate by the fan and members' department of 1. FC Union Berlin after long-time fan representative Joachim "Ajax" Müller announced his retirement from the supervisory board for health reasons. The newly appointed suprervisory board reappointed Thomas Koch as chairman, with Thomas Koch as his deputy.
"I would like to thank the members for the trust expressed through this overwhelming vote. We, the elected representatives of the membership, will do our utmost to continue the successful path of the club, and to accompany it closely. The tasks ahead of us are both challenging and motivating. I am very much looking forward to the next four years and to working with my colleagues on the Supervisory Board and the Executive Committee," commented Koch, the old and new Chairman of the Supervisory Board of 1. FC Union Berlin, on the outcome of the election.
Extensive stadium expansion as an important part of a regeneration project
Also presented at the meeting was new information on the planned expansion of the stadium An der Alten Försterei.
One huge milestone on the way to the new stadium has already been achieved, Union have exercised the right of first refusal stipulated in the ground lease agreement with the state of Berlin and have acquired the stadium site.
For the first time since the inauguration of the sports facilities at the Alte Försterei in 1920, the club now own the site.
The construction project will be much more extensive than originally conceived and will take into account future requirements in addition to the already known plans. The construction phase will begin in the first quarter of 2023 with the renovation of the forester's lodge, which dates back to the mid-19th century, from which the stadium takes its name.
Before the stadium conversion itself begins, the clubhouse and, as part of a greater traffic concept, a multi-storey car park will be built. In addition, the training ground will be redesigned, to house a sporting and social complex for the professional team in the future. As it stands, the club are expecting a two-year construction phase.
"We can speak with full conviction of a regeneration project that will leave a lasting mark on Union and raise our infrastructure to a new level. The planning is progressing well, so that we currently expect construction work on the buildings around the stadium to begin next year," said Zingler, explaining the current status in his report.
Honouring of deserving Union members
As part of the general meeting, some Union members were traditionally honoured for their exceptional commitment to the club.
The Bronze Badge of Honour was awarded to
The silver badge of honour was awarded to
The highest honour the club can give, that of honorary member, was awarded to
Dr Detlef Schwarz