UPDATE Feb. 24:
Schalke 04 has confirmed L'Équipe's reporting about considering selling its LEC spot in a battle with its current struggles.
"It's important to note that the club does not want or have to sell the LEC slot," Schalke 04 tweeted, adding: "But there are possible future scenarios in which this move would be necessary to strengthen the core business football and we have to be prepared for that."
Bundesliga football team Schalke 04 might be forced to sell its LEC spot to get back part of its investment and repair its poor financial state, French outlet L'Équipe reports. According to the article, the sale is beyond just speculative and the question has been raised internally and has been circulating for several weeks.
L'Équipe evaluates Schalke 04's LEC spot to about €20 million, which could help recover some of the staggering debt the football club is in. In December, DW.com reported that Schalke has amounted a debt of over €250 million. Earlier that year, in April, DW also wrote that Schalke is "facing existential crisis", which led to a 15% wage cut to the first-team players and the scrapping of its second-division basketball team. Club chairman at the time Clemens Tönnies admitted to Welt am Sonntag newspaper that he's "very worried about Schalke" and the crisis it's facing. In June 2020, Tönnies stepped down on the backdrop of failing to put adequate COVID-19 restrictions and a worsening still financial situation for Schalke.
Schalke 04 is also the worst team in the current Bundesliga season, with only one win in 22 games and performing at a record-worst for the league.
With a crushing debt looming over the club, a sizing-down across departments is a logical move, which would explain why divesting from esports is being considered. Schalke 04 is far from LEC's most lucrative brand and despite the temporary excitement around their Miracle Run in the 2020 LEC Summer Season, the club has little to show for. It spent 2020 as a middle-tier team at best and is yet to play a single international game, be it Rift Rivals, MSI, or Worlds. 2018 was Schalke 04's best year, finishing second in both the Summer Playoffs and the Regional Finals, missing Worlds by an inch.
Currently, Schalke 04 is tied for 6th place in the 2021 LEC Spring Season after five weeks and in danger of missing playoffs altogether if win-rates don't turn around.
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.