Wolfsburg’s Magath to coach Schalke despite title dreams

Felix Magath, coach of current Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg, will join rivals Schalke 04 at the end of the season, he confirmed on Wednesday.

Wolfsburg's Magath to coach Schalke despite title dreams
Photo. DPA

Wolfsburg announced Wednesday the 55-year-old will leave them when the season ends on May 23. Hours later Schalke confirmed Magath will take on the dual role of team manager and coach for them next season.

Neither the lure of taking Wolfsburg into the Champions League for the first time, nor leading them to their first Bundesliga title – imminent with his side’s three points clear with four games remaining – could tempt Magath to stay.

Amid rampid speculation in the German media last week, Magath admitted it was a poor time to make his future plans known with his current side chasing the league title.

“I am glad that the decision is finally out, even if I am not really happy about the circumstances,” said Magath in a press conference in Wolfsburg on Wednesday having taken charge of the Bundesliga team in the summer of 2007.

“After discussions with Wolfsburg’s supervisory board, we had already decided a week ago I would leave, but I regret the timing.”

Magath told the Wolfsburg squad the news on Wednesday morning and says he leaves with his head held high.

“I believe there are good reasons behind my decision,” he said.

“From my point of view, the goals which I agreed on at the beginning of my commitment with Wolfsburg’s board have been reached.

“It was planned to take the team to a higher level, and nobody thought we

would achieve that within two years.

“I don’t believe someone can work in professional football, on a long-term

basis, based on promises… and I was fortunate to get a good start to my time here.”

Former Bayern Munich coach Magath has a four-year contract at Schalke and says he leaves Wolfsburg in rude health, having used the early exit cause in his contract to take charge at Schalke.

Magath will take over from both Dutch coach Fred Rutten and team manager Andreas Mueller who were sacked from their roles by Schalke earlier this year.

“We have already reached our sporting targets substantially faster than we planned in the summer of 2007 when I took charge,” added Magath.

“This team is young and is bound to develop more in the future.”

Magath has steered Wolfsburg to the top of the German league this season, while Schalke are up to seventh in the table after an indifferent season, and Hans-Dieter Poetsch, chairman of Wolfsburg’s board, paid tribute to his work.

“We would like to offer our thanks to Mr Magath for his help over the last two years and for his extraordinary achievement in such a short period of time,” he said.

Magath was sacked by Bayern in February 2007 despite leading them to the Bundesliga and German Cup double in both of the two seasons before, and has turned midtable Wolfsburg into table leaders.

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EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches

The German Bundesliga kicks off on Friday evening with a match in Mönchengladbach. Here's a run-down of the Covid rules for football fans itching to join the crowds at the stadium.

EXPLAINED: The Covid rules for attending German football matches
Crowds cheer at a match between FC Kaiserslautern and Borussia Mönchengladbach, on August 9th, 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

All eyes will be on Mönchengladbach this evening as the Bundesliga season kicks off with a match against reigning champions Bayern Munich – and this time, a crowd will be present in the stadium.

READ ALSO: German football fans get green light to return to stadiums next season

With several states liberalising their rules for public gatherings in recent months, many football fans are looking forward to enjoying a lively atmosphere at football matches once more. 

There’s just one problem: there are different rules for different stadiums. Here’s what you need to know about the Covid rules before you book your ticket for any of the upcoming fixtures. 

How many fans are allowed in the stadiums? 

According to a recent decision by the federal and state governments, football stadiums around the country are allowed to fill half of their seats and sell up to 25,000 tickets to fans. 

Of course, how much this limit affects the overall atmosphere – and the football clubs’ bottoms lines – depends on the capacity of the stadium. In Borussia Dortmund this weekend, the full 25,000 tickets have been sold – but that only equates to 30 percent of the stadium’s full capacity.

READ ALSO: German football: Which Bundesliga club should I support?

Meanwhile, in the stadium owned by Berlin’s FC Union, selling just 11,000 tickets is enough to fill half of the available seats. 

What do I need to show to get in? 

That really depends on the stadium in question, although in general anyone over the age of six will need to show a negative test or proof of vaccination or recovery – the so-called ‘3G’ rule – to enter the grounds. But other clubs, such as FC Cologne, have decided to only permit people who are vaccinated or recovered to attend matches from August 28th onwards – with exceptions for people who can’t get vaccinated, like children and pregnant woman.

At Mönchengladbach’s Borussia Park stadium, however, unvaccinated fans can enter with a negative test, though visitors who’ve stayed in a high-risk or virus variant area over the past two weeks will be unable to enter – along with people who’ve had recent contact with someone who has Covid. 

If you want to see action like this at FC Cologne’s stadium, you’ll need to get your Covid jabs sorted first. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund has taken a middle ground. While the 3G rule applies in principle, only 1,000 of the available 25,000 tickets will be sold to people who are providing a negative test. The remaining 24,000 seats will only be available for those who are vaccinated against – or recently recovered from – Covid. 

If you’re not vaccinated and are keen to see a match, it’s worth checking on your local club’s website beforehand or sending them an email to double-check whether you will be allowed in. 

What else do I need to know about? 

You’ll need to bring a FPP2 mask with you to matches to wear in your seat and while heading to the bathroom or bar, and also observe social distancing rules – meaning staying 1.5 metres apart from your fellow fans.

In most states, you’ll also need to provide your contact details, which will be saved by the club and potentially passed on to local health authorities in order to monitor a potential Covid outbreak. 

Will these rules continue throughout the season?

That’s still an open question. If infection rates in Germany continue to rise or high-profile superspreading events occur at future matches, the government could potentially crack down further on sports events in autumn.

This could involve limiting the seat numbers even further, or (more controversially), introducing a ‘vaccinated-only’ rule for entering stadiums. 

READ ALSO: Should Germany bring in Covid restrictions for unvaccinated people only?

A recent outbreak of Covid in the Mainz football team has also dampened celebrations slightly in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga – leaving club owners urgently calling for both fans and footballers to get vaccinated. 

Speaking to WDR ahead of the season’s start, FC Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle said widespread vaccination was the best route back to normality – a message reiterated by Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann.