Previously the man in charge of the finances, Jan-Christian Dreesen is now Bayern Munich’s top dog as CEO. - © Bongarts/Getty Images
Previously the man in charge of the finances, Jan-Christian Dreesen is now Bayern Munich’s top dog as CEO. - © Bongarts/Getty Images

Jan-Christian Dreesen: Who is Bayern Munich’s new CEO?


Previously known as the numbers man at Bayern Munich, Jan-Christian Dreesen has now been put in full charge of Germany’s biggest football club after taking over from Oliver Kahn as CEO. introduces the man now guiding the giant Bayern ship, despite initially planning on leaving it…

Dreesen, 55 at the time of his appointment at the end of the 2022/23 season, has come a long way – quite literally – to reach what many would consider the pinnacle of sporting management in Germany. Born on 4 September 1967 in the town of Aurich, there aren’t many places located on German soil further from Munich, found in the country’s far northwest.

He began his working life with local bank Volksbank Aurich before coming to Munich in 1995 as an advisor with the then Bayerische Vereinsbank. After the company became the Hypovereinsbank, he became director for private customers and private banking in 2006.

Jan-Christian Dreesen (l.) first came to the attention of Bayern when involved in negotiations with 1860 Munich for financing the Allianz Arena. - Lennart Preiss/Bongarts/Getty Images

Not long after being named on the executive committee following the takeover by Unicredit, he resigned and later became chairman of the German branch of Swiss bank UBS in 2008. After that, he became one of the directors at the Bayerische Landesbank. It was there that he first caught the eye of Bayern’s bosses as a negotiator in talks with 1860 Munich about financing for the Allianz Arena.

It was then in early 2012 that the club approached Dreesen about becoming their new CFO. “After sleeping on it, I stated I was willing,” Dreesen said of his decision to enter the world of football. “You shouldn’t regret missed chances, but take them when you get them. And to work for Bayern is a really special job.”

And so, he officially succeeded Karl Hopfner as finance director in February 2013. CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Dreesen was there to continue Hopfner’s role as “Bayern’s good conscience”, but the new man also added that he “also wanted to bring in new aspects” to accelerate the growth the club had seen under Hopfner and previously with then president Uli Hoeneß in his former role as general manager. 

Dreesen (l.) followed Karl Hopfner (r.) as chief financial officer at Bayern. - Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

Although a self-declared Bayern fan and someone who brings “a basic understanding for the game and its surroundings”, Dreesen always insisted he was not someone who would “presume to analyse the sporting performance of a player in a match”.

Instead, it was he who would sign the paperwork whenever a new player joined the club or extended their contract there, having carefully calculated all the numbers behind it. Although named Rummenigge’s deputy as vice-chairman in February 2014, he would often do his work in the background, with his remit also covering ticketing, IT, fan relations and much more.

Dreesen would often be seen sitting alongside the likes of Rummenigge and Hoeneß, later Kahn and Herbert Hainer, at matches, but hearing from him was a rarity. The only time he appeared in any news was after a hunting accident in September 2017 saw him lose his left index finger. His chance to speak usually only came once a year, at the club’s annual general meeting.

Dreesen (2nd r.) would often be seen alongside fellow board members Oliver Kahn (l.) and Hasan Salihamidzic (2nd l.) at Bayern matches. - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

It was here that Dreesen got to show off his work, almost every year reporting record numbers for finances across the club. It was his financial management that saw Bayern emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the very few clubs in the world not to make a financial loss due to the imposed public safety measures, such as stadium closures.

“It’s always a special day for me, almost a holiday. And honestly, I was still nervous doing it for the 10th time,” Dreesen said in an interview with Bayern’s in-house channels shortly after being appointed CEO.

“My goal is always to convey something perceived as dry as interesting with commitment and passion. Our members should understand what it’s about and not want to go out and get a sausage sandwich during my presentation.”

Dreesen’s motto during his decade as Bayern’s ‘numbers man’ was always “we never spend more than we earn”. His time as CFO saw the club enjoy its greatest era in terms of on-field – with 11 consecutive Bundesliga titles and two continental trebles – and also financial success.

Dreesen’s biggest appearance each year used to be at the club’s annual general meeting, where he presented Bayern’s financial figures to members. - imago/DeFodi

Prior to the pandemic, Bayern’s income had risen in every year of Dreesen’s tenure, from €393.9 million in the 2012/13 season to €715.8 million in 2018/19. Even during and in the aftermath of the pandemic, those figures never dropped below 2017/18’s total of €624.3 million.

As such, when Dreesen took to the stage for his 10th – and what he thought was his last – AGM in October 2022, he thought he was handing over the books in a very healthy state to successor Dr. Michael Diederich, even predicting a new record in 2022/23 of over €770 million.

Dreesen had announced earlier in the year that he intended to leave Bayern after 10 years at the club at the end of the 2022/23 season. He was given a standing ovation by members in attendance at the AGM and thanked them for “seeing more in me than just the man who presented the numbers”.

His work with the club’s finances and close relationship with a number of fan groups meant he was a popular figure in the upper echelons of the club, both with supporters and also employees. His impending exit was described by German sports magazine Sportbild as “the equivalent of Robert Lewandowski’s departure on the field”.

He has been a member of the DFL executive committee since 2016 and was in discussions with committee speaker Hans-Joachim Watzke (now his opposite number at Borussia Dortmund) to become the new DFL CEO.

Dreesen presented medals and the Meisterschale to Bayern at the end of 2022/23 in his role as a member of the DFL executive committee, minutes after he’d been named Bayern’s new CEO. - Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

However, as Dreesen explained at his unveiling as the new Bayern boss: “When I was asked by Herbert Hainer whether I wanted to take over as CEO, the decision turned out to be easier than I thought. So, I informed Aki Watzke that I won’t be available to be DFL CEO, but will obviously remain in the DFL executive committee and support him there.

“When you have the chance to be CEO of Germany’s biggest club, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. I didn’t need long to think about it and immediately said 'yes'. When it’s a matter so close to your heart, you happily change your plans. And that’s Bayern for me.”

Now honorary club president Hoeneß spoke in the days and weeks following the decision to appoint Dreesen on the final day of the 2022/23 season of a “calmness” that had returned to the club’s office at Säbener Straße.

Watch: Bayern snatched the title on the final day of 2022/23

Incumbent president Hainer highlighted Dreesen’s detailed knowledge of how the business works, as well as how popular he is among staff and how he is a factor for “stability and certainty”.

Following the concurrent dismissal of Hasan Salihamidzic as sporting director as well, Dreesen is now also a key figure in any transfers that take place. He will work alongside coach Thomas Tuchel, as well as supervisory board members Hoeneß and Rummenigge, with Diederich now overseeing the numbers until a new sporting director is appointed.

He and Rummenigge previously took charge of signings in the period between Matthias Sammer’s resignation and Salihamidzic’s arrival. And when asked about one of the best transfers he’s been involved in, Dreesen recalled the arrival of Xabi Alonso in 2014.

“I flew to Spain and originally we couldn’t reach an agreement with Real [Madrid]. After going home, I got a call from Madrid at 1.30am that things were now fine. Xabi then came to Munich the next morning for his checks. And while he was lying there with Dr Müller-Wohlfahrt, I was there with the paperwork so he could sign.”

He no doubt has many more fascinating stories from over the last decade in the Bayern boardroom that will make a great biography when he’s done for good. But for now, a new chapter begins both for Dreesen as CEO and Bayern as a club with the 'numbers man' at the helm.