Dortmund Will Cut Roster If It Fails to Reach Europa League

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Borussia Dortmund will reduce its roster if the 2011 and 2012 German soccer champion doesn’t qualify for the Europa League this season.

“If we weren’t to play at international level next season, the squad would certainly be too big,” Managing Director Hans-Joachim Watzke said in an interview at the headquarters of Germany’s only publicly listed soccer club.

While the Champions League is out of reach, Dortmund may still qualify for the second-tier Europa League, Watzke said. It might have to win all eight remaining games to get there, according to an end-of-season scenario on the Bundesliga website. Dortmund won the Champions League in 1997 and lost in the 2013 final to Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich, its opponent on Saturday.

“We have to look down for now,” Watzke said. “We don’t need to waste a thought on Champions League.”

Dortmund was last in the German league after 19 games this season. Since then it has won five times and drawn twice to climb to 10th. The team fell into the relegation zone after losing as many as six players to long-term injuries and others missed preseason preparations because they played in the World Cup, the executive said.

“If Dortmund didn’t play at international level, they would look into the costs,” Marcus Silbe, an analyst at Oddo Seydler Bank AG, said by phone from Frankfurt. He expects the squad to be changed in that case while the club “wouldn’t have financial constraints to sell players.”

Player Talks

Reaching the Europa League may help to persuade players such as captain Mats Hummels, part of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad, to stay. The defender, who has a contract through 2017, has been linked with clubs including Manchester United by the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph and other newspapers.

Attacking midfielder Marco Reus extended his contract through 2019 in February. Dortmund is in talks with Ilkay Guendogan and Watzke expects a decision soon on whether the midfielder will extend his contract. Watzke said he assumes striker Ciro Immobile, the top scorer in Italy’s Serie A last year, will continue to play with Dortmund next season.

Not playing in the Champions League, which Manchester United missed this season for the first time in 19 years, will prompt a “dip in growth,” Watzke said.

Dortmund is targeting a return to the top tournament next season and to “establish ourselves permanently” to reach targeted annual sales before transfers of 300 million euros ($325 million) from 2017, he said. It reported revenue of 260.7 million euros in the year ended June.

Asia Tour

Watzke said Dortmund “will earn very good money” from two matches in July in Southeast Asia, where it competes for fans with clubs such as the Premier League’s Arsenal and Chelsea. It opened an office in Singapore in October.

The tour will help the club to exceed 200 million euros of sales in the year starting July even if it fails to qualify for European competition, he said.

Dortmund seeks to pay a dividend this year, which matters more than the stock price to major shareholders including chemical maker Evonik Industries AG, insurer Signal Iduna and sporting-goods company Puma SE, Watzke said.

The stock last week fell to 3.513 euros, its lowest intraday price since December 2013, slumping more than 30 percent since July. Today it rose 2.1 percent, the most since March 18, to close at 3.646 euros in Frankfurt.

Dortmund on Saturday hosts Bayern at its 80,000 capacity stadium in the industrial northwestern Ruhr region. Dortmund was the runner-up in the league in 2013 and 2014 to Bayern, which has a 10-point advantage over second-ranked Wolfsburg.

“It is very improbable that someone is able to jeopardize Bayern Munich for the foreseeable future” in the Bundesliga, Watzke said. “That isn’t beautiful but the truth.”

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