Hans-Joachim Watzke, a key senior figure in German soccer, has announced he will end his long tenure as chief executive of domestic Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund in 2025.
The 64-year-old has opted not to extend his contract, which expires the end of 2025, and will step down from management.
Watzke had previously informed the executive committee of the advisory board of Borussia Dortmund of his decision and also made a request to the committee that he be relieved of his overall responsibility for sporting matters by June 30, 2024, at the latest in order to prepare for “the smoothest-possible transition.”
The executive committee has granted Watzke's request and asked him to put together and present proposals for a succession plan for the sporting division.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday (January 8), Watzke said: "Next year, I'll have been in office for 20 years. I've increasingly been feeling that the point has come where I say: enough is enough at some point.
"I wanted to make it public early on in order to preside over the transition over the next year and a half. This is the right time to draw any conclusions. It was important to me that I could announce my departure from this role in a self-determined manner.
“I'm very grateful to my club for giving me the opportunity all these years. I consider it a great privilege to have always felt the trust."
Watzke took the job in 2005 and helped revive the club from the brink of bankruptcy to become the second strongest force in German soccer, both on the pitch and commercially, behind Bayern Munich.
The Dortmund chief recently guided the Bundesliga club through a difficult financial period caused by the Covid-19 pandemic where they lost €150 million.
The club returned to profit for the first time since the pandemic in the 2022-23 financial year, generating €9.5 million for the 12 months. In 2021-2022, the team announced a loss of almost €32 million.
That upward financial trajectory has already continued into this season, with the club posting revenue of €58.9 million in the first quarter, an increase of €15.1 million from the prior year, and a net profit of €52.4 million (up from €38.5 million).
Watzke is one of the most powerful figures in German soccer and also serves as chairman of the supervisory board of the DFL body and vice president of the German Football Association.
In April, he was elected to the executive committee of European soccer’s governing body UEFA.
Carsten Cramer, Dortmund’s managing director, details the club's financial recovery in a recent interview.