On the pitch, things don’t look too bad for Die Sechz’ger (the ‘Sixties’ in Bavarian). With six games to play, they lie in a comfortable 9th with no danger of troubling the top 3 or indeed the bottom 3. For achieving all that, even after picking up an unwelcome 2-point deduction for a ‘breach of licence’ in October, their coach Reiner Maurer deserves acclaim. But that point deduction merely scratches the surface of a toxic concoction of off-pitch issues. I’ll cover that soon. A little (ok, maybe more than a little) history lesson and pitch matters first.
I’ll skip the first 100 years. (They didn’t play football for around 30 years and even after then not much happened, save for winning a single Tschammerpokal (German Cup) against Schalke in 1942).
The club’s first real success came in 1963 when it won the Oberliga Süd. In doing so, they were one of five Oberliga Süd outfits to be granted automatic entry into Germany’s new professional league – the Bundesliga. What gave their league title significance was that it prevented eternal rivals Bayern from entering immediately (despite finishing 3rd) as the German Football Association (DFB) did not want two teams from the same city in the new league. The 60s were definitely Die Löwen’s halcyon days with a second German Cup in 1964, a losing Cup Winners Cup final appearance (0-2 vs West Ham) in 1965 and a Bundesliga Championship in 1966.
From this point on came a period of instability, not just on the pitch (where they were relegated as far as the tier III Amateur Oberliga Bayern in 1982), but off it too (where they were denied a licence due to financial problems. A sign of things to come? You bet.)
Anyway, things picked up and in 1994, 1860 were promoted back to the Bundesliga, where they managed to spend a decade (including a brief Champions League appearance in 2000) before a disastrous 2003/4 campaign saw them relegated in their last ever season at the Sechzgerstadion, and the return of their financial problems. [Trust me: I can empathise with that exact situation being a Leicester City fan.]
Enough of the past for now, let’s return to the present. Following consecutive defeats to the promotion chasing duo of Erzgebirge Aue and Augsburg in mid-February, Reiner Maurer has seen his side’s form pick up. That is until they lost at Aachen on Sunday afternoon. In the meantime, they had managed to pick up 10 points from a possible 12, including thumping wins at Bielefeld and at home to Karlsruhe.
Central to this run has been Kevin Volland. Having stepped up from the reserves this season, the Germany U-19 striker has now bagged 5 goals and provided 4 assists in his short first-team career at the Allianz. The bad news for the Lions is that he’s joining Hoffenheim. The good news is that he’ll remain an 1860 player until the summer of 2012.
They can also field the fourth highest 2.Bundesliga scorer in Benjamin Lauth. The Bavarian-born striker, who has been capped 5 times by die Nationalmannschaft, returned to the club at which he started his career (1992-2004) in 2008, and has since established himself as club captain.
Ok, that’s enough of the good stuff. Unfortunately. 29 year-old Lauth is having the season of his career with 13 goals and an assist to date. Not that you’d know it. ‘Everyone is hoping and trembling’ he said last week.
The crisis that TSV are now facing is not a bolt out of the blue. They’ve suffered before and this time the issue has been brewing since that 2004 relegation and in particular the move to the Allianz Arena.
How have they managed to get themselves into such a state again? A culture of mismanagement seems to have plagued the club for decades, but big spending on players such as Abedi Pele, Thomas Häßler and Davor Šuker as their careers wound down in the 90s will not have helped their wage bill. With hindsight, chasing the Champions League dream around the turn of the millennium wasn’t particularly wise.
But this latest crisis is first and foremost to do with the stadium and subsequently, gate receipts. 1860 have been suffering from a worrying trend in attendance since their first season at the €340m arena:
- 2005/6 – 2.Bundesliga – 13th – 41 720
- 2006/7 – 2.Bundesliga – 8th – 35 688
- 2007/8 – 2.Bundesliga – 11th – 35 071
- 2008/9 – 2.Bundesliga – 12th – 28 135
- 2009/10 – 2.Bundesliga – 8th – 22 515
This season the downward spiral has continued and whilst they can boast the 3rd highest average in the 2.Bundesliga, they are again way down on last year’s figure at a miserly 18 875. Perhaps this isn’t particularly unsurprising. Before they moved to the Allianz, their attendance floated around the mid 20s even in the Bundesliga, so half a decade of mediocrity in the 2nd tier will have done nothing to inspire the blue side of Munich.
This latest, sorry chapter in TSV’s history started when their late President Karl-Heinz Wildmoser made the awfully controversial decision to share the Allianz with Bayern. He was accused of all sorts including ‘selling-out’ 1860’s identity and was later caught, along with his son, in a bribery scandal involving the construction contract for the new stadium.
In April 2006, with TSV majorly struggling both on and off the pitch (trying to avoid relegation to the Regionals and insolvency), Bayern bought out 1860s 50% share of the stadium for €11m. Stefan Ziffzer, then managing director said this move had staved off insolvency for the time being. This lead to the first signs of discontent within Bayern fans – something that would again rear its head last weekend. Chairman of Bayern’s holding company (FC Bayern Munich AG), Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was forced to defend the decision stating that it ‘was not done because of brotherhood or sympathy, it’s in our own self-interest.’
The contract stated that TSV could choose to buy back their share any time before June 2010, but in November 2007 they relinquished this right, a sign that they were not out of the woods. Time moved on and when a ray of light appeared in the form of the Schwarzer Group (a Berlin-based financial consultancy firm led by Nicolai Schwarzer), it was not long before things went black again as the DFL failed to approve 1860s investment plan in February 2009. A few months later, Schwarzer indicated that the deal was not dead and had merely stalled. He said that there was regular communication between parties, but gave no timescale.
Nothing much was reported between then and October 2010, when Kicker ran a story suggesting Schwarzer had invested around €2m in 1860, and in December 2010 he confirmed that he wanted to buy further shares and save the club.
In mid-March, 1860 were given a deadline. They had to find a significant portion of their debt by April 1st or bankruptcy loomed. Then on Friday, at the last minute, Schwarzer stumped up an extra €1.5m to pay the players’ salaries for March, thus preventing ‘Black Friday’ and a further 9-point deduction from the DFL.
Schwarzer has since said that he was told ‘the chapter of 1860 will have to close’ should he not provide the cash. Dieter Schneider, current 1860 Club President, can now afford to speak with more confidence and despite the club still needing around €10m to stave off insolvency, he has said that the club now has ‘four or five weeks to find a solution’ and that he is ‘99% certain the club will remain in business.’
The Future – See Part 2 Below OR click here