Dortmund open office in S'pore

Slick and stylish on the football pitch; financially viable and forward-thinking off it, Borussia Dortmund now want to grow their brand across South-east Asia - with Singapore as a headquarters for this effort.

Benedikt Scholz, the club's head of business development and international relations, has revealed that the Bundesliga outfit's first overseas representative office will open at the International Business Park in Jurong before the new German season kicks off on Aug 22.

"It is our obligation to engage our fans in the region and give them a connection to the club," he told The Straits Times.

"And we are convinced that having someone on the ground will be extremely beneficial."

One of the office's priorities is for the first team to tour the region and engage their fans.

Noting next year's summer break as a target date for the tour, Scholz said: "That would be the icing on the cake, to go with our continued activities in the region to nurture interest in the club."

The club's reserve team, Borussia Dortmund II, will play a friendly with Singapore's 2015 SEA Games squad on July 15, as part of a two-week training tour of Austria for the Republic's national senior and Under-23 sides.

Fan-engagement efforts aside, the office will also enable Dortmund to reach out to potential business partners through club main sponsor Evonik, a chemicals company, and kit supplier Puma.

"That gives us a variety of options and connections in the region," Scholz explained.

"Most of the markets we rate as strategically important are located in South-east Asia and Singapore provides both a perfect business environment and top-quality infrastructure."

The fact that last year's Uefa Champions League finalists are looking to grow their overseas fan base of 11.8 million is nothing short of a remarkable turnaround.

Not long ago, in 2005, they were on the verge of bankruptcy with debts of close to €120 million (S$203.8 million).

Forced to take out loans - including a €2 million bailout from rivals Bayern Munich - they have since bounced back and made a €53 million profit last year.

Brought about by years of extravagant spending and a sudden drop in share prices, the financial crisis is still fresh in the minds of most at the club, with Scholz calling it "an important lesson in striking the right balance".

But he was also quick to add that it encouraged the club to produce their own stars, including German internationals Mario Goetze and Marco Reus.

"We've turned difficult circumstances to our advantage by focusing on the development of young, talented players," he said.

"We were able to establish Dortmund as an intense, authentic and ambitious club; now, we want to demonstrate this to our fans in South-east Asia."

This article was first published on JUNE 20, 2014.
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