Wolfsburg postpone training centre plans amid VW scandal

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BERLIN (Reuters) – VfL Wolfsburg have postponed plans for a new multi-million euro youth training centre after the scandal over rigged diesel emissions tests that has hit owners Volkswagen, Wolfsburg’s Chief Executive Klaus Allofs said on Tuesday.

“I think it is understandable to postpone it for now,” Allofs told reporters in response to media reports the plans for the new training centre, reported to cost up to 40 million euros ($45 million), had been halted.

“We were still a long way away from being able to say that the project is implemented but obviously now is not the moment to invest. Reason has to prevail,” said Allofs, whose club is also competing in Europe’s Champions League competition this season.

The 2009 Bundesliga champions are wholly-owned by Europe’s largest carmaker, which is battling the biggest business crisis in its 78-year history after admitting last month it installed software in diesel vehicles to deceive U.S. regulators about the true level of their toxic emissions.

The scandal has wiped about a quarter off Volkswagen’s market value, forced out its long-time chief executive and rocked both the global car industry and the German economy.

Wolfsburg, league runners-up and German Cup winners last season, have been hoping to give champions Bayern Munich a run for their money again this season.

They will now have to see what further impact the emissions scandal will have on Volkswagen’s investment in the club, estimated at about 100 million euros a year.

VW also owns stakes in Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and promoted Ingolstadt through its subsidiary Audi, and is an official partner of the German Cup competition as well.

Volkswagen has various sponsorship deals with more than a dozen other Bundesliga and Second Bundesliga clubs too, including Hamburg SV, Schalke 04 and Eintracht Braunschweig, while former chief executive Martin Winterkorn himself sits on the board at Bayern.

Earlier on Tuesday, Volkswagen said it would cut investment plans at its biggest division by 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) a year and step up development of electric vehicles as it battles to cope with the fallout of the scandal.

($1 = 0.8800 euros)

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Mark Potter)

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