Hoeness returns as Bayern Munich president after prison term
MUNICH: Uli Hoeness is back in charge of Bayern Munich 270 days after his early release from a 42-month prison term for tax evasion.
Some 7,152 club members voted by more than 97 percent for the 64-year-old Hoeness, who was the only candidate, to become president again on Friday. There were 108 votes against and 58 abstentions.
Hoeness resigned from the position in March 2014, one day after he was convicted of avoiding taxes on at least 28.5 million euros ($31 million) via an undeclared Swiss bank account. He was released in February after serving half of the sentence.
"I made a huge mistake. I respect everyone here in the hall who didn't give me their vote because of the misdemeanor. But I've done everything I can to correct this huge mistake," said Hoeness, who was applauded into the club's AGM.
"To be standing here today, I thank my two families, mine and that of Bayern," Hoeness said. "I ask you for a second chance and I promise to do everything to fulfill your expectations."
Hoeness also thanked the club's management advisory board for proposing him unanimously for the position.
Dieter Mayer and Walter Mennekes were voted in as vice-presidents.
So many club members showed up for the AGM that it was delayed, with Hoeness and other club officials appealing to frustrated supporters to show understanding when the 6,000-capacity venue was full.
A separate 2,000-capacity tent was set up with screens to allow members to follow developments but many late-arriving fans were unhappy not to be allowed into the main venue. Some who persisted were eventually allowed in behind the stage.
Bayern said it now has 284,041 members, up from 270,329 last year.
Outgoing president Karl Hopfner was given a standing ovation after 33 years' involvement with the club.
Hoeness remained close to Bayern while in custody, benefiting from a work-release program in the club's youth department before returning to prison overnight. He spent weekends at home and was cleared for early release in January.
As a player, Hoeness won the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup with West Germany and three straight European Cups — the predecessor of the Champions League — with Bayern before retiring in 1979 with chronic knee problems.
Under his guidance as general manager, Bayern built financial reserves rarely seen in debt-ridden European soccer.
Bayern announced club-record financial figures for the 2015/16 fiscal year, with turnover for the FC Bayern Muenchen AG group including subsidiaries at 626.8 million euros, exceeding the previous year's figure of 523.7 million euros by more than 100 million. Profit increased by 111.3 million euros to 142.5 million.
On the field, Bayern won an unprecedented fourth consecutive Bundesliga title, as well as the German Cup, while a run to the Champions League semifinals also boosted club coffers.
"Our members, staff and friends of the club can be very proud," Bayern deputy chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen said.
The club's expenditure was topped by personnel costs of 260.3 million euros.