Today, we got the surprising and disastrous news about the insolvency of the German basketball team Cologne 99ers. The ULEB Cup participant and former German Champion from 2006 will stop immediately his basketball operations and all its players and employees will be released.Their ULEB Cup game tonight will probably be the last official basketball game under its actual status.
The first place where I read about this incredible situation was this morning in the Kölner Express. The information was quite limited at that moment but later in the day, some more precision have been published. In an article of the German edition of the Financial Times, Jan Pommer, the boss of the German league was talking about himself being extremely surprised by this decision. “This was very surprising for us. We can not really overview the actual situation. Our responsability actually is to talk to the insolvency administrator and check how he sees the situation. Either, he will stop every tentative to reanimate the team or he sees some potential to continue. What is very important, is that we don’t want to a have an unfair competition (with all the top players leaving and playing with the youngsters). We are open for every type of discussion and we really want the team to continue and do everything what is in our hands. The Cologne 99ers is a very respected team.”
What happened? One of the main sponsors and members of the boards has announced on Saturday that he can’t and won’t do his payments for the upcoming months. After the
retirement withdrawal of the main sponsor Rheinenergie during the Summer of 2007, the cancellation of the construction of a new arena, this was now the last decision that made the team go down.
Besides Cologne, some other German teams are actually facing financial problems with Giessen 46ers hoping on a credit given by the local authorities, Leverkusen facing the
retirement withdrawal of their main sponsor Bayer in the Summer and also Ulm getting in trouble with the very probable retirement withdrawal of the main sponsor Ratiopharm.
We will of course follow this very closely and keep you updated about the evolution of this subject.
UPDATE (23/1/2008 23h45)
It looks like Cologne will continue to play Basketball. Rumors say that a British company called Auric Capital Ltd. will take over the team. In a first research, I could not find out what this company is about or if it is just a stupid message from a discussion board. Apparently, this holding is owned by Gerald Wagener, a German entrepreneur who already was the boss of the 2nd league team Düsseldorf Magics.
Before this rumor came up, the team already declared that they will continue to play at least until next weekend. The away game transportation will be paid by the hosts. Of course, a bus transfer is financially more interesting than a whole home game that is cancelled.
This morning, all the players were present at the practice except one who was not informed yet about the “positive” changes.