Hertha Berlin backer calls for club president to go

BERLIN (AP) — Hertha Berlin’s tranquility after its first win in three months lasted less than 24 hours.

Hertha ended its nine-game run without a win in the Bundesliga with a 3-0 success over Hoffenheim on Saturday.

On Sunday, the investor who pumped 374 million euros ($413 million) into the club since 2019 slammed Hertha president Werner Gegenbauer and called for a change of leadership.

“He’s been the president for over 10 years and it’s become clear to me that he’s not doing everything he can to lead the club to success, but rather he’s working very strongly to consolidate his own power,” Lars Windhorst told the Bild TV channel.

Windhorst said he will not work with Gegenbauer anymore and called for a “fresh start” at the helm. Hertha’s next general meeting is in May.

Windhorst said it was “shocking that so much money has been burned in such a short time” after seeing no return on his investments. Hertha has been fighting relegation every season since 2019. General manager Fredi Bobic said recently the investor’s money was “gone.”

Windhorst said Sunday that Hertha “definitely needs new money to survive” but ruled out investing any more if Gegenbauer remains.

“I would certainly invest new capital in the first division and also in the second if there are good people at the top of the club who cooperatively pull together,” Windhorst said.

The 71-year-old Gegenbauer has been Hertha president since May 2008. He saw Hertha push for the Bundesliga title with Lucien Favre as coach in 2009, then get relegated in 2010 and 2012.

Gegenbauer preferred not to respond directly to Windhorst’s criticisms.

“Our club can only take note of these statements by Mr. Windhorst at the moment. We promised our coach and the team not to discuss these things in public in the coming crucial weeks in this difficult sporting situation,” Gegenbauer told news agency dpa.

The Hertha president said he would issue a statement on his dealings with Windhorst “as soon as (league) survival is finally secured.”

Windhorst’s investments were supposed to herald a new era with Hertha challenging for European qualification and a place among the continent’s best. Instead, the club has lurched from one crisis, scandal or low point to another.

Felix Magath, who was appointed on Mar. 13, is the team’s seventh coach since Windhorst got involved. Magath missed his first game in charge after contracting COVID-19 last Thursday, but assistant coach Mark Fotheringham was able to lead the team to its first win since Dec. 18 against Hoffenheim.

Hertha, which now occupies the relegation playoff place, next faces a tough game at third-place Bayer Leverkusen before what is sure to be a heated derby at home against Union Berlin on April 9.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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