If you are a bit older than I am and have been a fan of Bundesliga longer than I've lived, you might just recognize the name FC Bayer 05 Uerdingen, a team from Krefeld in western Nordrhine-Westphalia which enjoyed its greatest spell during the eighties. However, this team crashed and their wicked fate might be a sign of things to come for other teams in the current Bundesliga.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen, RB Leipzig, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and VFL Wolfsburg have one thing in common; they were allowed to "break" the 50+1-rule by some reason. However, there was another team many years back that were also allowed to break the traditional rule of German football. Uerdingen played in Bundesliga during the eighties and their blue and red shirts became a symbol for the entry of companies in Bundesliga. Where are they now? During the late nineties the company Bayer considered Uerdingen unvaluable and withdrew their support, financially and publicly. This came as a shock for the Westphalian club, which managed to stay in Bundesliga one more year before they eventually were relegated. And repeat. When they found themselves in 3. Liga, financially underwhelmed and without any hope, DFB delivered the final blow. Due to their financial status they weren't approved license for 3. Liga and were relegated to the fourth division. Now they play in the fifth tier of Westphalian football, without any hope or money. Due to Bayer's withdrewal, they now find themselves in a never ending nightmare where the once so prosperous club is the main protagonist and Bayer is the scary villain.
Now they are called KFC Uerdingen 05, Krefelder Fussballclub Uerdingen 05, and seem utterly stranded in the fifth division, all because of Bayer. However, Bayer continues to support the other branches of the club, other sports in other leagues, but football, the biggest sport in Germany by far, was deemed unvaluable to the megacompany.
Now, why is this relevant? Well, how is it not relevant? It is more relevant than ever and in its relevance the big fatal question is hidden; "why break a rule?" I have written about tradition in German football and have criticized modern football, but the example of Uerdingen is mayhaps the most powerful argument against the allowance of breaking a traditoional rule. So exactly how is this relevant? Let's take a look at Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Leverkusen is a big club, by all means, and is one of the bigger, most powerful German clubs and it's without a doubt one of the most internationally acclaimed. Likewise, in Germany it's liked by many and is far more popular than for example Hoffenheim or Wolfsburg, mostly down to thee fact that it has created its own history and pride. While all this is moving, really..., it's also an example of a rule that has been broken and when rules are broken, people get hurt and in this case Leverkusen will be the ones that get hurt. When, not if, Bayer deem their Leverkusen unvaluable, that marks the downfall of the club and we might see a crash a' la Uerdingen if we are terribly unlucky. When it will happen, I do not know. Leverkusen is a big club and have kept themselves floating for many years and Bayer was founded in Leverkusen and it might therefore take a while, but it will happen, mark my words and take it as a warning for things to come. KFC Uerdingen 05 is a brilliant example of commercial football gone wrong and most moral beings, animals or human, will forever feel for the club and its fans.
Axel Falk, editor and self-proclaimed Nostradamus of German football.
This is where it all begins. Our resident analysts study the unrecognised players and examine the matches that are of interest across Europe.