1860 Munich in chaos after shame of relegation to 3rd tier
ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 01, 2017 10:32 AM
Munich players sit on the pitch after the German Bundesliga 2nd division relegation soccer match between TSV'1860 Munich and Jahn Regensburg in the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Former Bundesliga champion 1860 Munich was relegated from Germany’s second division in a game that was held up for 15 minutes toward the end because of violence from its angry fans. In the foreground police officers can be seen securing the field. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP)
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) — Former Bundesliga champion 1860 Munich's relegation to Germany's third division has plunged the club into chaos amid recriminations over who is responsible for its demise.
"Nobody around the club ever expected or wanted that we dropped to the third division," 1860 said on its website Wednesday. "We know that this scenario is not acceptable for the whole 'Lions' family. In such a situation, there are only losers unfortunately."
It could yet get worse for the Munich-based club, which will be forced to declare insolvency unless Jordanian investor Hasan Ismaik reaffirms his commitment to the club. 1860 has till Friday to transfer about 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to the German Football Federation (DFB) to receive a license for the third division.
"The license cannot be obtained unless there are further payments from Mr. Ismaik," DFB vice president Rainer Koch told Sky Sport News. 1860 could be forced down to the fourth or even fifth tier.
Equipped with the third most expensive squad in the second division after Stuttgart and Hannover, which both secured their return to the Bundesliga, 1860 finished third from bottom this season. It was relegated Tuesday after a playoff defeat to Jahn Regensburg, a team that had been playing fourth-tier football the season before.
1860's 2-0 defeat at home in the second leg was marred by violence from angry fans, shouting "we're fed up," as objects, including seats, were flung onto the pitch toward the end of the match. Around 1,000 riot police lined up to prevent the situation escalating as the game was held up for 15 minutes. Munich police said 10 officers were slightly injured.
"A shameful evening in Froettmaning," Kicker magazine said of the neighborhood where 1860 shares its stadium with city rival Bayern Munich.
1860, which won the Bundesliga in 1966 and had played in the top flight as recently as 2004, returned to the third level for the first time in 24 years.
It's just the latest in a series of embarrassing setbacks for the club, funded primarily by Ismaik, who had promised to lead it to the top levels of European football.
"We're on the right path to turn 1860 into one of the best clubs in Europe," Ismaik said last September. "Then the players will also be proud to be part of this club."
Those aspirations after years of mismanagement had fueled 1860's summer spending spree. Only Stuttgart spent more, though that was offset by sales after its relegation from the Bundesliga.
1860 brought in players like Stefan Aigner from Eintracht Frankfurt and Brazilian forward Ribamar from Botafogo. Croatian veteran Ivica Olic joined on a free transfer from Hamburger SV, believing, like many, that 1860 was a club on the way up.
But the season didn't go as planned. Kosta Runjaic was fired as coach amid acrimony in November after seven defeats and just two wins from 12 league games. 1860 was also knocked out of the German Cup in the second round.
Meanwhile, Olic was fined and suspended for two games for illegal betting on second-division matches.
Sports director Thomas Eichin followed Runjaic out of the club; chief scout Peer Jaekel was next to go. All three subsequently brought proceedings against 1860.
Daniel Bierofka took over as interim coach, the latest at a club where no coach had seen through a whole season since Rainer Maurer from July 2010 to November 2012.
Former Porto coach Vitor Pereira was eventually appointed in December to turn 1860's season around, but even he had no answers when the worst was confirmed on Tuesday.
"It pains me immensely that the project failed," Pereira said. "My conscience is clear that I did all I could."
Pereira is unlikely to hang around in the third division.
The Portuguese coach received sympathy from Jahn counterpart Heiko Herrlich, who said, "1860 is a historic club. I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart for the club, which actually belongs in the Bundesliga."
1860 president Peter Cassalette resigned after the match. The club announced that chief executive Ian Ayre, the former Liverpool chief executive who only took up the position in April, had already tendered his resignation before the game.
Ayre was scathing in his criticism of 1860's backers, telling the Liverpool Echo newspaper: "Unfortunately, during my short eight week tenure I have found an organization in which the shareholders are not aligned in a common interest, nor have a shared vision for the future of the club."
Ayre said Ismaik's investment in the club "will not bear fruit unless all shareholders align behind shared objectives for the future with respect for each other. Currently this is not the case."
The DFB is investigating the disturbances that marred the end of the game and 1860 faces heavy consequences.
"It's a catastrophe," 1860 midfielder Michael Liendl said.
Most 1860 players are set to leave the club as they don't have contracts that are valid in the third division.
Whether the club continues to share a stadium with unpopular neighbor Bayern remains open. TV revenues are also set to go down. To make matters worse, 1860's under-21, under-19, under-17 and under-16 teams were all also relegated this season.
Ismaik didn't attend the game Tuesday and his intentions remain unclear. Many fans would rather he left the club altogether. However, the club faces possible insolvency if he withdraws his support, and a free-fall to the lower levels.
1860 fans used to take pride in reminding Bayern counterparts that their club won the Bundesliga before Bayern ever did. On Tuesday, due to a catering mishap at the game, they were served beer in Bayern glasses. It was just another insult added to injury for the supporters.