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May 3, 2013

Dortmund CEO: Bayern didn't bail us out

Ahead of the Bundesliga game between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke has moved to set straight his version of the story that his club's opponents in the upcoming Champions League final had saved them from going bust.

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Watzke opened what is expected to be the first of many verbal exchanges between the clubs during a press conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday's match at the Westfalenstadion. In one of several interviews prior to the Real game last Tuesday, Watzke sought to clarify the story that Bayern saved the club with a €2 million loan when Dortmund were tumbling towards administration a decade ago.

"There has been a €2 million credit from FC Bayern, but not for me," he said. "I set great values upon that. I would have rather gone begging than to borrow money from Bayern.

"In 2004 Bayern paid that money to my predecessors. And, regardless of that €2 million, BVB was nearly bust in 2005."

Watzke had been the club's treasurer since 2001, and did not take on his current role until four years later.

"One of my first official acts was to ask the creditors for permission to fully pay back the money, something other creditors only could have wished for," he said.

"Bayern Munich has not played any role in helping Borussia Dortmund avoid administration, got a high rate of interest and all of their money back. If anyone maintains the standpoint that Bayern Munich helped the economical 2.0 version of Borussia Dortmund in any way, they are knowingly telling a falsehood."

The Dortmund chief said on Thursday that both sets of club officials will not meet for dinner prior to the game, a common gesture between the two clubs in the past, and that the relationship between the two opponents in the upcoming Champions League final has cooled in recent weeks, although they maintained a level of professionalism.

"I have always spoken about Bayern with a lot of respect and admiration. That has cooled down a bit," the 53-year old said. "It is not the case that we are enemies. The relationship is absolutely fit for work. But why should we call it love, peace and harmony if it isn't so."

However, alluding to the recent Mario Gotze transfer, when Dortmund did not hear from Bayern before the deal had been made public by German tabloid Bild just one day prior to Dortmund's first leg against Real Madrid, Watzke added: "There have been a few irritations."

Watzke explained Bayern officials could expect a handshake on Saturday, but added that he saw no need to talk to Bayern officials on the night, saying "there was a need to talk a few weeks ago."

The league clash on Saturday night will be something of a dead rubber, with Bayern Munich having run away with the league title several weeks ago and Dortmund's second place all-but secured. Both clubs will field under-strength sides, with Bayern already announcing Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Frank Ribery will not travel this weekend. The fourth meeting this meeting of the Bundesliga's top two sides, however, will still be the centre of attention in Germany ahead of their clash at Wembley on May 25.

On Thursday, the nationwide daily Die Welt headlined: "The new Germany takes on the old Germany" and commented: "By tendency, Bayern is the "I" and Dortmund is the "we". That's why it is so difficult to hate Dortmund from the heart, if you are not a Schalke supporter traumatised by the years of failure."

Several polls in Germany also suggest that Germans would like to see Dortmund taking the trophy back home to the Ruhr region, rather than the European Cup returning to Bavaria for a fifth time.

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