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The 62-year-old's conviction for tax fraud has not lessened his popularity within die Roten's set-up, with the sporting director among those leaping to his defence

Uli Hoeness' "spirit will live on" at Bayern Munich despite his impending imprisonment and having resigned as club president, according to sporting director Matthias Sammer.

The 62-year-old was sentenced to three and a half years behind bars for tax fraud on Thursday and confirmed his intention not to appeal the verdict on Friday, despite his lawyers originally claiming he would protest it.

Ahead of the Bavarians' clash with third-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday evening, Sammer insisted that Hoeness' incarceration will not prevent him from being a major presence at the Allianz Arena.

"The spirit of him will always live on," the Bayern chief told Sky. "He's not going to leave the world of Bayern."

Former Bavaria state president Edmund Stoiber, a co-chairman on Bayern's advisory board, also threw his support behind the beleaguered World Cup winner whom he claims will always be welcome at die Roten.

"The door is always open and Uli Hoeness will always be the soul of the club," he told local television. "Whatever he wants to do, anything is possible. I would be delighted to have him."

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