Ex-German champ Kaiserslautern in bankruptcy protection

The Associated Press

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany (AP) -- Four-time German soccer champion Kaiserslautern has filed for bankruptcy protection to deal with its mounting debts, saying on Monday it was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kaiserslautern was most recently German champion in 1998 but hasn't played in the top division since 2012 and dropped into the third tier for this season.

The club said the move could allow it to restructure its business and keep the team playing. The players already accepted wage cuts last month.

CEO Soeren Oliver Voigt said the coronavirus slashed revenues and hampered talks with would-be investors. The pandemic meant Kaiserslautern played no games for nearly three months before resuming without fans in its 49,850-capacity stadium.

''During the lockdown phase we quickly noticed that the 82 days in which no football was played here clearly aggravated the financial situation,'' Voigt said. ''We still can't allow our fans into the stadium, and they are enormously valuable for us.''

Kaiserslautern is 12th in the German third division, which resumed play without spectators last month.

It's one of several German clubs which have complained the coronavirus is causing serious economic damage. Top-division Schalke has suggested it faces an existential threat.

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