The president of the Schalke 04 Supervisory Board, Clemens Tönnies, resigned all his positions at the club on Tuesday amid pressure from groups of supporters and the debate that arose after an outbreak of coronavirus in a slaughterhouse on his property.
Tönnies was considered by many to be Schalke's 'strong man' and on several occasions he helped the club with credits in difficult financial situations.
The discontent of ultra fan groups with Tönnies began before the pandemic, when the official delivered a speech at a meeting of businessmen that was interpreted as racist.
Tönnies said on that occasion that instead of putting pressure on the industry with energy taxes, power plants in Africa had to be installed so that Africans would stop felling trees and “make children” at night for lack of light.
Tönnies later apologized and the matter seemed shelved, but was reminded again after the deplorable conditions in which workers at a meat processing company he owns live came to light., considered the largest in Germany.
Most of the workers at the Tönnies company come from Eastern Europe and live in collective accommodation with hygienic conditions that may have unleashed an outbreak of coronavirus and that it has forced the introduction of new restrictions in two locations in the region.
Tönnies has headed the Schalke Supervisory Board since 2001. Since then, Schalke have won the German Cup three times, been the German runner-up five times and qualified for ten seasons in the Champions League.
Schalke is currently experiencing an economic and sports crisis. The team failed to win a single of the last 16 games of the season, relegating it to twelfth place in the standings.
At the end of 2019, Schalke had debts of 197 million euros and the economic situation has worsened due to the coronavirus.
Among the measures that had been considered was to resort to a Tönnies loan, but it was ruled out. Now, the possibility of a state guarantee for a bank loan is being considered.