After almost seven hours of the extraordinary general meeting, the City Cube near the radio tower was cleaned up. On and behind the stage, at the food stands. Some members were still there. They wanted to take selfies with the new president of Hertha BSC – and got them.
Kay Bernstein was also available for a short chat. Then he said goodbye to everyone present on Sunday evening with a “HaHoHe” and helped pull a laptop cable out of the socket.
At the end of a memorable day, which had revolutionary traits for the association, the following picture remained: the president is there for the grassroots, the president is there to help. “The Presidency must become more approachable. Let’s approach the people and talk to them, that’s what matters,” Bernstein had previously said and immediately filled his words with life.
There has been a lot of talk about a fresh start at Hertha lately. Now it’s here, and it could hardly have been more blatant. The members had the choice between Frank Steffel, the preferred candidate of several people in important positions in the association, and Bernstein. The 41-year-old has been with Hertha since 1994. At that time, the number of spectators in the second division was sometimes hardly higher than the number of participants at the general meeting on Sunday (a good 3000).
During his Ultra time, Bernstein saw home games from pretty much every corner of the Olympic Stadium, from standing room in the fan block to the lead singer in the front row there to the VIP box. When asked what was decisive for getting almost 400 votes more than Steffel in the end, Bernstein answered: “To be Herthan”. That’s at the top. “Only then are you a fan, Kutte, Ultra or main grandstand seater.” Being a Herthaner, that certainly applies to Bernstein without any reservations.
From the curve to the presidential post in the Bundesliga, it probably doesn’t get any more romantic than football. Proximity to the grassroots and his authentic nature brought Bernstein the victory in the election. It takes more to lead Hertha into more successful times, Bernstein knows that. “I can’t do it alone,” he emphasizes, saying several times that he also wants to take those with him who didn’t vote for him and take their worries, fears and wishes seriously.
About 1,300 members had decided against Bernstein, and even among the many who were not present, there were likely to be some reservations about the president, who more than 15 years after withdrawing from the ultra scene is still associated with it by quite a few. He was not asked many critical questions on Sunday. One was how he felt about pyrotechnics, which were forbidden in the stadiums. “We no longer need the debate as to whether pyrotechnics are in the stadium, but how we deal responsibly with ensuring that there are no injuries,” said Bernstein, who openly addressed the stadium bans imposed on him many years ago on the website designed for the candidacy.
Convincing all fans is just one item on the long list that the owner of a communications agency has to complete. Talk, take away, one, that also applies to the Executive Committee. “The main task will be to make the presidency a tight-knit group.” The task here is not small either. Although Bernstein is likely to have a majority for many ideas, he will also work there with, among others, Peer Mock-Sümer and Ingmar Pering, who – like the Chairman of the Supervisory Board Klaus Brüggemann – were on Steffel’s side.
Bernstein has to work well with sports director Fredi Bobic and not least with Lars Windhorst, who has invested a total of 374 million euros in the club since 2019. Windhorst had made the situation at Hertha even more difficult with constant criticism in the final phase of the past season. After his resignation at the end of May, Bernstein’s predecessor Werner Gegenbauer accused Windhorst in a Tagesspiegel interview of having “set the club on fire” in the middle of the relegation battle.
Bernstein thinks pragmatically: “Reality says: Mr. Windhorst is there, he has the shares. We will try to involve him in the best possible way and to achieve our goals with him.” For this, too, “much better communication is necessary”.
The new Vice-President Fabian Drescher, who tied his candidacy to Bernstein’s election as President, spoke out in favor of “calmer tones” in relation to Windhorst. In turn, he has already announced in “Kicker” that he is going into the talks openly and without reservations.
The fact that he is withdrawing from the operative business in his company shows how seriously Bernstein from Hertha takes the task of Hertha President. His wife will become managing director, and new staff will be hired if necessary. Bernstein assures: “It is built in such a way that there is full concentration on Hertha BSC.”