Commentary: Royal Blues in the middle of a gathering storm

Ahead of the 2019/2020 Bundesliga season’s last matchday turmoil, struggling Schalke 04 is seeming to get out of control.

As if sporting setbacks, economic difficulties, in-house competence conflicts, and a simmering alienation from fans weren’t enough, new trouble is in sight.

Fans announced that they would protest in the form of a human chain around the club’s headquarters this Saturday after accusing officials of losing contact with reality.

Several supporter groups said: “The entire season has been a declaration of bankruptcy.”

Unrest is visible around town as huge banners placed at bridges and house walls give evidence of the fan’s deep frustration after 15 consecutive games without a win.

One of the country’s most famous clubs has turned into a renovation case.

A debt level of 198 million euros (about 223.1 million US dollars) threatens to worsen as the head of Schalke’s supervisory board is facing unpredictable problems. Clemens Tonnies, co-owner of Germany’s biggest meat production company, faces a lockdown of his enterprises due to a regional outbreak of COVID-19 infections.

More than 1500 temporary workers of the so-called “meat baron” have been tested positive. Schools and kindergartens nearby had to be shut down. Protesting parents turned up in front of the Tonnies villa, expressing their anger.

The under-fire official spoke of an existential crisis for his company as he is accused of having offended the lowest standards in both his plants and worker’s accommodations.

Schalke’s plans to outsource the professional section might come under endangerment as reports speak of the 64-year-old to be one of the investors intending to buy a significant number of shares.

Most fans oppose the plans and call for the officials’ resignation. “Schalke is no slaughterhouse. Against dismantling our club,” a banner said.

In 2019 Tonnies had to step aside from his football duties three months after making racial comments.

One can’t deny that the side, proudly announcing to have over 160,000 members, is going through one of his darkest years.

After giving notice of salary cuts for players, the 2011 German Cup winner caused an outcry among fans dismissing low-income drivers of the self-run shuttle service for several youth teams.

Season ticket holders were asked to reveal their financial situation to get their money back as national league games had to be run behind closed doors since mid-May due to the coronavirus crisis.

While the sides sportive head Jochen Schneider expressed a job guarantee for David Wagner, many supporters have lost faith in the 48-year-old coach.

Fans complain about the misuse of the club’s values for only shallow image reasons instead of living them.

The club announced to increase communication efforts with its supporters, widely known for their loyalty.

While the Bundesliga might close its doors after its current season until September, this Saturday trouble seems to continue for Schalke.