It's the end of an era at Borussia Dortmund after club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke announced he will leave the club at the end of his deal, which runs through to the end of 2025. Watzke announced his decision to not extend his contract at the club and will now leave in the fall of next year as announced officially on the club's social media channels.
"It was always important to me that I could announce a self-determined exit from this position. I have been here a long time, and I'm very grateful to the club for giving me this opportunity. I see it as a great privilege to have always felt the trust." Watzke said.
He further added, "The final decision came over Christmas, but I have been thinking about it for a long time. I thought about leaving in 2022 but had to stay during COVID-19. My 20th anniversary is next year and I had the feeling it was the right time."
Watzke also informed that he will cede control over sporting matters at the end of the 2023-24 season. "My feeling has increased that the point has come where I say: 'At some point, enough is enough.' I wanted to make it public early to moderate the transition over the next year and a half.
I want to focus on the transition and strategy and the time is right to make all derivations from," the 64-year-old stated.
Watzke's time at Borussia Dortmund
A club member since 1996, Hans-Joachim Watzke was appointed club treasurer in 2001 before being elevated to the post of CEO in 2005, after a brief period of financial limbo for the club.
Watzke oversaw Die Schwarzgelbern lift two consecutive Bundesliga titles (2010-11 and 2011-12), three DFB-Pokal cups and three DFL Supercups and make it to the final of the 2013 UEFA Champions League final where they endured a heartbreaking defeat against rivals Bayern Munich.
Along with success on the pitch, he is also credited for making Borussia Dortmund one of Europe's most financially stable clubs. Watzke employed a strict wage structure and struck gold by setting up a system to spot talented youngsters who could earn their ropes before making big-money moves to other European heavyweights. Dortmund focused on buying these youngsters early and cheaply and providing opportunities in the top flight to maximise their potential before selling them on for bigger fees to Europe's elite.
A few of the numerous established names who flourished during Watzke's reign include Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Erling Haaland, Robert Lewandowski, Ousmane Dembele, Jadon Sancho and most recently, Jude Bellingham who has taken the footballing world by storm since his €103 million move to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp also became a household name under Watzke at Dortmund before moving to the Merseyside club.
Along with his role at the Westfalenstadion, Watzke also holds the role of vice-president of the German Football Association (DFB) since 2021 and Chairman of the DFL (German Football League). He is also a member of the UEFA Executive Committee since 2023.
Outside of football, he founded and grew Watex, a company making safety clothing, with current sales of the company tallying €15-20 million and a workforce of 45 employees.
Uncertain future at Borussia Dortmund
Hans-Joachim Watzke's decision leaves a lot of questions to be answered for Borussia Dortmund. It remains to be seen what direction the club will now look to take after spurning their chance to wrestle the Bundesliga title off Bayern Munich on the final day of last season
Dortmund are currently in their annual winter camp in Marbella and need to address their immediate future with the January transfer window now open. The Germans are looking to finalize the imminent arrival of Jadon Sancho, as they prepare for progress on their 5th place standing in the league and in the UEFA Champions League where Terzić's men face PSV Eindhoven in the round of 16.
Along with finding a successor for the veteran CEO, the club also has the contracts of key players and staff to manage during the 64-year-old's remaining days at the Signal Iduna Park. The contracts of experienced players such as Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, Marius Wolf and Thomas Meunier are set to expire this summer while Gio Reyna's deal is up next along with manager Edin Terzić and sporting director Sebastian Kehl.