Fußball-Bundesliga: Turbine Potsdam in der Krise
Once a flagship project, now at the bottom of the table: Turbine Potsdam is in crisis. Former players speak of bad conditions and chaotic structures. There is also said to have been a split in the resigned board.
“What’s actually going on at Turbine Potsdam?” This is a question that has been asked more and more over the past six months, meaning above all athletic performance. The team is currently in last place in the Bundesliga with one point. Last season, the turbines narrowly failed to qualify for the Champions League and ended up finishing fourth.
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But there was also a lot going on off the pitch: the previous summer, the contract of incumbent coach Sofian Chahed had been terminated for the new season. As a result, the then President Rolf Kutzmutz resigned, followed shortly thereafter by Vice President Uwe Reher and other board members. When the sporting performance was not right in the fall, the new coach Sebastian Middeke parted ways. However, the biggest turning point for the club came when twelve players, almost half of the squad, left the club during the summer break.
Turbine Potsdam conceded tenth defeat of the season
“We didn’t feel like we could just focus on football”
“We didn’t feel like we could only focus on football,” says one of the players who left the club. In total, rbb|24 spoke to six former players, all of whom wished to remain anonymous. The statements paint a picture of deep structural problems within the club, which are said to continue to the present day, and the players’ desire for more progress.
According to the players, the success of the past season does not reflect what is going wrong in the background. “That sounds crazy – but our performance on the pitch was above average, despite poor structures,” says one player. Specifically, the following problems appear particularly frequently in the descriptions: poor pitch and training conditions, communication problems – for example, that physios sometimes do not even know what injury problems a player has. The coaching team is responsible for all communication and is therefore noticeably overburdened for the players. The actual tasks of the coaching team fall behind. In addition, the club lacks further development and adaptation to modern women’s football.
Many players describe that the structure and approach of the Turbine success phase from ten years ago still applies. “The issue is very complex,” says one player. “Ten years ago you had a lead in infrastructure, now women’s football has grown and the structures are more similar to men’s football. The club missed the leap and lost the innovative and rested in the phase of success.” Turbine is losing more and more sponsors because of its stiff image, as the players see it.
We’ve had a lot of talks, very often touching on the same issues, that we need more staff and the conditions have to change.
Desire for management and sporting direction
As far as internal communication is concerned, the players lack contact persons. The players themselves say they tried to contribute to change: “You always have your heart in the club.” So they often sat down over several seasons and worked out structural plans together. As a solution, the desire for a management, team supervisor or a sports directorate was brought to the management levels.
“We had a lot of talks, very often touching on the same issues, that we need more staff and that the conditions have to change,” says another ex-player. “Something like that shouldn’t just come from us.” However, one also saw the overload on the honorary board. From the point of view of the former players, however, this situation speaks in favor of creating more structures independent of voluntary work.
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Communication is lacking
The players say their ideas were received enthusiastically, but nothing has changed noticeably. Often the answer was: the money was missing. “A position for sporting management must be created,” says the current managing director Stephan Schmidt when asked. It is one of the most important tasks that the new board, which is to be elected on January 6th, has to face.
rbb|24 spoke to different people who were part of the club’s management at different times and some of whom want to remain anonymous. According to these statements, the concerns of the players did not reach everyone on the board, in general there was a lack of information flow. Parts of the board are said to have received no answer to specific questions about the acquisition of sponsors. Such an insight would have been important, especially in the discussions about the financing of modern structures.
Split between the board and the executive committee?
Confronted with these allegations, President Rolf Kutzmutz, who resigned in the summer and who also took care of the sponsors, says: “If it’s about things that nobody else wanted to take on and I took on this matter – then it’s the case that I do this take the blame on my head, because then I didn’t see much reason to account for it.” According to Kutzmutz, however, there were no such allegations during the board meetings. Other people describe that there were several bangs in the board meetings before the concentrated resignations in summer and autumn. There is said to have been a split between the board and the presidium – that is, between supporters of an advanced turbine and supporters of the old structures. Kutzmutz says he always missed concrete proposals for restructuring.
“Turbine is an association, but it has to be managed like a medium-sized company”
Turbine Potsdam will elect a new president on Friday. The doctor Karsten Ritter-Lang is the only candidate. In an interview with rbb|24, he explains why he feels qualified to lead Turbine out of the crisis and what his goals are.more
New president wants to “turn things around”
According to the ex-players, the current squad also had to go to an insufficiently large alternative pitch to make room for other Potsdam clubs. Managing Director Stephan Schmidt confirms that there are currently several construction sites, and that the players have addressed the space conditions several times. Several board members confirm that in the past there have always been negotiations with the city because there are not enough sports fields for the numerous local clubs. Currently, however, a satisfactory solution is said to have been found.
Last November, Karsten Ritter-Lang was elected as the new President of Turbine Potsdam. Since the players’ statements are not related to his tenure, we did not confront him with the statements. Shortly after his election, he told rbb|24: “It’s certainly not the most tempting task of the times.” However, after discussions with the team and fans, he was motivated to “pull the helm”.
The ex-players hope that the new executive committee will bring about change for the club: “More openness is needed on the cultural level. More working together and not ‘everyone does their thing’. Listen to each other more, approach each other and work together work. I wish that for Turbine.”
Broadcast: rbb24, 06.01.2023, 9:45 p.m
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