WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen-backed Bundesliga club Wolfsburg postponed the construction of a youth training center Tuesday because of the German car manufacturer's emissions-rigging scandal.
"I think it's understandable that we at least suspend it for now," Wolfsburg chief executive Klaus Allofs told news agency dpa, referring to the planned 40 million euro ($45.5 million) project. "We were not at the stage that you could say the project would be implemented. But of course this is not the time for investment."
Wolfsburg is heavily reliant on main sponsor Volkswagen for backing, but the car giant is in crisis after U.S. authorities said it evaded emissions checks on 482,000 vehicles. The company put aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) for recall costs and fines though the real cost is likely to be significantly higher in terms of fines and lost sales.
Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller told workers last week that the company would have to be more careful about costs with all spending to come "under scrutiny."
Mueller's predecessor, Martin Winterkorn, had been a supporter of the company's generous sponsorship of German soccer, and Wolfsburg in particular, with the club reportedly receiving 80 million euros ($91 million) annually from the car company.
Volkswagen also sponsors the German Cup and several other clubs, while subsidiary Audi holds an 8.33 percent stake in Bayern Munich and a considerable stake in promoted Bundesliga side Ingolstadt.
However, Wolfsburg is unlikely to see any immediate impact from the scandal.
"We're heading towards difficult times financially and are asking ourselves what benefits are coming from which Volkswagen engagements. But Wolfsburg is not an issue at all," company spokesman Hans-Gerd Bode told Sport-Bild.
Kicker magazine reported Monday that Wolfsburg had agreed to a 10-year deal with American sportswear giant Nike for 80 million euros ($91 million), though the club had yet to confirm it.
"We're having good talks with outfitters and hope to be able to present a conclusion soon," Wolfsburg marketing director Thomas Roettgermann told the Wolfsburger Allgemeinen Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday.