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Volume 7 No. 149
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Volkswagen Could Curb VfL Wolfsburg Sponsorship If Club Is Relegated

Volkswagen's "expensively assembled" Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg faces relegation "for the first time in 20 years," a move that "could lead the carmaker to curb sponsorship as it grapples with its emissions crisis," according to Andreas Cremer of REUTERS. A town of around 125,000 people, Wolfsburg "owes its very existence to Volkswagen." Purpose-built on Adolf Hitler's orders in '38 to make the "peoples' car," about half of the town's workers have jobs "directly linked to the company." Volkswagen has "for years splashed out shareholder money" in a bid to build a top football team "even as experts questioned the business case" because VfL Wolfsburg has "only limited revenue streams" and lacks an int'l fan base. The club's loss on Saturday to Hamburg SV means it faces a two-legged relegation playoff against local rival Eintracht Braunschweig on May 25 and 29 to determine its fate. A VW spokesperson on Monday "declined to discuss the implications of Wolfsburg's potential relegation for the carmaker's future sponsoring policy." After "dieselgate" broke in Sept. '15, VW "halted plans" for a new €40M youth training center but it continued to subsidize VfL Wolfsburg at a cost of about €90M ($100.7M) per season, a source at VW said (REUTERS, 5/22).