Embattled Schalke chairman Toennies steps down after 19 years

Bundesliga club Schalke’s chairman Clemens Toennies has stepped down after a dismal season for the club that saw it finish in 12th place.

Clemens Toennies had been on the Schalke board for 26 years.   -  AP

Schalke 04 chairman Clemens Toennies stepped down on Tuesday after 19 years, amid a dismal Bundesliga season for the club and a coronavirus outbreak at one of his meat factories.

Fans had been demanding Toennies, a billionaire meat producer, to resign for months with the team in free fall after the winter break.

He had already infuriated many supporters last year with comments that were ruled as 'racist' by the German FA and he stepped down voluntarily for three months at the time.

He again hit the headlines 10 days ago when more than 1,000 employees at one of his meat processing plants tested positive for coronavirus, prompting local health authorities to order all 6,500 employees and their families to go into quarantine.

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The localised lockdown was a setback for Germany's reopening strategy.

To top a difficult 12 months for the 64-year-old Toennies, who had been on the Schalke board for 26 years, his team finished in 12th place in the Bundesliga last week, missing out on European football after setting a club record of 16 straight league games without a win.

“We as a board regret the decision of Clemens Toennies,” Shalke deputy chairman Jens Buchta said in a statement.

“As chairman he left his mark on the board with a mix of dynamism and down-to-earthness. He was often the motor that started and accompanied new processes.”

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