In addition to associations such as “Suffbock Dünnwald” and “Abschaum Köln 1999”, a group of friends called “Arrogantia Colonia” was founded among the organized supporters of 1. FC Cologne. Whether irony was the godfather of the naming, or whether the founders were serious, is irrelevant for further consideration, presumably it was both at the same time anyway. The only important thing is that it expresses the self-image that many Cologne residents still have when they compare their club with the rest of the world. You are aware that the club has not only been a chronic problem patient in terms of sport for almost a quarter of a century, but it is still your 1. FC Köln from the city where Latin was spoken 2000 years ago.
This proud awareness means, among other things, that despite six relegations within 22 years, the FC continues to be a particularly fascinating address, which is why coach Steffen Baumgart, who comes from the Baltic Sea beach, has now also joined, although he does not know in which league the club is will play for him, and although he knows that the club must first sell its best people before continuing in this or that league. The club stands for “concentrated power”, believes Baumgart, who has been courted many times, “I want to experience Cologne’s emotions up close”.
The downside of the proud character could emerge again on Saturday when 1. FC Köln receives FC Schalke 04. “The doomed greet each other”, it might say in the Latin tradition before the kick-off: Even if they win at home, FC are threatened with the relegation that Schalke has long since made perfect. In the event of a bad ending, things are guaranteed to continue as usual in Cologne: Then the manager Horst Heldt, who came a year and a half ago, has to leave, and the functionaries in the various, with preference contrary to one another, association bodies will assign the blame to one another. Can the presidium still hold up then? Sequel follows.
The sports board of the brave 1. FC Heidenheim warns the prominent rivals
In addition to Cologne’s local color, the classic behavior pattern of a so-called traditional club would come to light in this process – a being that suffers from its typical contradictions and then, with its concentrated power, knocks itself out above all. It is well known that this is a rampant phenomenon, and it is now taking shape in the cast list of the future second division. The league is becoming a reservoir for time-honored clubs that can’t get along with themselves. Hamburger SV and Schalke 04 lead the crowd with their celebrities, behind them old masters such as 1. FC Nürnberg, Karlsruher SC, Fortuna Düsseldorf and Hannover 96 join forces, Dynamo Dresden and maybe the Munich Lions from league three . When Cologne and Bremen join in, then the contrasting program is perfect: Then the first division meets in the provinces, in Fürth, Kiel, Augsburg, Mainz and Hoffenheim, or straight away for “El Plastico” at Wolfsburg against Leverkusen, during one Class lower, the popular premium brands entertain a festival audience.
Will the “Sportschau” then change the sequence and send the first division block in the preliminary program in order to create a better slot for the higher-rated second division reports? Will the former Monday game of the second division, which will be relocated to Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m. from next season, the audience hit of the weekend with viewers like Thomas Gottschalk?
Experts from the professional business do not find the development strange. They cannot recognize winners in the constellation that is currently forming. The first league will lose its attraction when magnets like Schalke, Cologne and Werder no longer work, the second league will be the scene of a rat race. Because if ten or twelve clubs claim that their origins and popularity mean that they belong back to the top league as quickly as possible, then logically there will be a lot of losers. And maybe not just sporty, because in order to accelerate the escape from the peculiar second division, one or the other club will of course invest more than they should reasonably do.
The dilemma begins with a paradoxical perception. The fact that big clubs like HSV and Schalke have come into this circle ensures a lot of malicious joy beyond the following affected here and there. The football fan who laughs at half past two on Saturday afternoon that HSV is behind against Darmstadt 98 is the same football fan who complains that Fürth and Kiel are now advancing instead of HSV and the first division is becoming more and more provincial. Of course, the DFL has nothing to say about this. Although its job is to increase the income for professional football, it is also there for all 36 clubs. And the Bundesliga is not Hollywood, where beauty and glamor count, but a sporting event in which the most hits are decisive. The most important discipline: functional operational management, clever management. Where it gets complicated: when fans and tabloids have a say and have a say in government, a classic feature of traditional companies.
In order for the first division to have the most attractive line-up again, HSV, Schalke, Cologne and Bremen would have to learn how to work like the potential newcomers VfL Bochum, Holstein Kiel and Greuther Fürth. At least that’s what smart people say with an insight into the respective business operations. However, they leave out the fact that a city like Hamburg cannot be compared with a city like Bochum. For once, it’s about more than money: In each of its three second division years, HSV had more of it available than the ultimately more successful competitors, Schalke descends with the budget of a European Cup candidate.
FC Heidenheim, an indomitable member of the Round Table since 2014, is of course also a role model. His sports director Holger Sanwald is already pleased that the league is “even more attractive”. For the prominent newcomers, he has a warning that sounds like a threat: “Any club that underestimates this league makes the first mistake.”