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The DFB Pokal and the Milk Cup

3 Aug

Last weekend, two cup competitions were taking place. One kicked off with 145 goals in just 32 games. The other was a youth tournament coming to a conclusion in Northern Ireland and saw Manchester United’s U-16s humbled in the final by Qatari side Aspire.

Schalke (minus Manuel Neuer) got their defence off to a good start. Thumping Teningen 11-1.

The first, of course, was the DFB Pokal. Won comprehensively in May by Schalke, 64 teams began the road to Berlin. The second was the Milk Cup. Not to be confused with the English League Cup sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board in the 1980s, that is the subject of this piece. This much maligned cup, renamed six times since 1982, is in desperate need of an overhaul.

Crowds are dwindling – despite the competition being split into north and south, only two of the 35 first round ties last year passed the 10,000 mark (Leeds and Southampton). Clubs, particularly in the Premier League, are happy to prioritise the league over the now called ‘Carling Cup’. The proverbial European carrot at the end of the stick appears not tantalising enough for many to take it seriously. The exception being Birmingham, who paid for Europa League football with their Premier League lives.

Next midweek, the 51st season of the English League Cup will kick off in earnest. Ok, Crawley have already seen off AFC Wimbledon in the prelims BUT I mean the first round proper. In the days to follow, numerous media sources – tenner says that the Beeb does a half-baked job of criticising crowds – will likely slate the competition. [Note: the attendance figures will be up on last year thanks to West Ham and a Nottingham derby]. Not one will offer up a well thought out plan to ‘save the cup.’

So here’s my attempt…

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Germany: The Lower Leagues

8 Jun

Bit of a cheat of a post, this. Most of it originally aired around a month ago on the magnificent SeventyTwo, but after a period of exclusivity (ha, just kidding, he’s a pal), it’s ready to hit these boards. Hopefully it’ll be new to some of you, or you might just enjoy reading it again whilst taking in the new parts – i.e. the bottom has a ‘comprehensive’ promotion/relegation list!

I’d be willing to wager a fair wedge that there is no other league system in the world that has chopped and changed as much as the Deutscher Fußball Bund’s pyramid.

The top two (18-team) leagues – the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga – head a now nine-tier (tier IX has approximately 800 leagues) system that has undergone more cosmetic surgery than you can shake a stick at. Only three seasons ago, the third tier, now named the 3.Liga, became national for the first time.


Stalled by two World Wars and eras of National Socialism, professionalism in Germany, subsequently West Germany, was finally introduced following a 1962 World Cup quarter-final defeat to Yugoslavia with the establishment of the nationwide Bundesliga in 1963.

The second tier remained a five-league regional affair until in 1974, when it became apparent that the step, between the fully professional Bundesliga and semi-pro/amateur Regionalligas, became more of a chasm. The gulf left several relegated clubs on the verge of bankruptcy and was finally brought to the fore by the Bundesligaskandal of 1971 where a number of teams, including Schalke, colluded to help Kickers Offenbach avoid relegation.

To help combat this, the DFB launched the 2.Bundesliga which began as a north-south split but became countrywide in 1981. Ten years of relative stability followed before the reunification of Germany in 1990 complicated things with East German teams competing in the same league structure as those from the West for the first time since 1949 in the 1991/2 season.

Germany now has three nationwide leagues with the fourth tier the first region-based league. Currently each of the three regions (North, West, South) have a league consisting of 18 teams with only one promotion spot per division. From the 2012/13 season the fourth flight will be split to form five regions – a further indication of the instability within the German football league structure.

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3.Liga – Matchday 36 – The Permutations

29 Apr

Eintracht Braunschweigcan clinch the title with:

Last week Hansa secured promotion

  • a win vs Stuttgart II OR
  • a draw and Hansa Rostock draw vs Wehen Wiesbaden
  • a loss and a Hansa Rostock loss

Hansa Rostock have already secured promotion.

The play-off place cannot be clinched this week. Teams still in contention:

  • Rot-Weiβ Erfurt (3rd, 58 pts, +19) who host Jahn Regensburg (11th)
  • Dynamo Dresden (4th, 58 pts, +15) who play at Babelsberg (12th)
  • Wehen Wiesbaden (5th, 58 pts, +14) who play at Hansa Rostock (2nd)
  • Kickers Offenbach (6th, 57 pts, +11) who host Carl Zeiss Jena (15th)

With Bayern Munich IIs already down, Werder Bremen II can join them with:

  • a loss vs Sandhausen and a Wacker Burghausen win (vs Heidenheim) and a winning result in the VfR Aalen vs Rot-Weiβ Ahlen game.
  • a draw and a Wacker Burghausen win and an Aalen win

From the Regionals 

In the Regionalliga West, Preußen Münster can clinch promotion to the third tier with:

  • a win at Elversberg and a Borussia M’gladbach II loss (vs Wuppertaler) and an Eintracht Trier draw/loss (at Homburg)