Just two years after playing in the DFB Pokal Final and sitting comfortably in the upper half of the table in the 2.Bundesliga, MSV Duisburg have been denied a license by the DFL (German Football League) for the 2013-14 season and will be relegated to the Regionalliga (fourth division). Out of 46 clubs that applied for a license, Duisburg were the only one to be denied.
They struggled throughout the season and managed to avoid relegation late in the campaign, but it all could be for naught. When they receive the written notice of the DFL's decision, Duisburg will have exactly one week to file an appeal. Should they file an appeal and it fail, they will then be relegated to the fourth division. If the appeal fails and Duisburg is relegated, Sandhausen will remain in the 2.Bundesliga instead of being relegated to the 3.Liga.
Duisburg was able to raise the remaining €3 million in funds that were necessary for the club to apply for the licensing from the DFL, and they submitted their application with ten minutes remaining before the deadline. While club officials believed that they would receive the license for the 2013-14 season, Bild is reporting that the DFL had concerns over some of the conditions on the funds for the upcoming season and issued the denial. WAZ says that there is a balance error of only €364,000.
Club legend and current board member Bernard Dietz spoke words that were echoed elsewhere: "It's a shock. I had just stepped out of the shower when I received the news. We were sure that all of the submitted documents met the conditions. Eventually, the money was there."
Supporters showed up at the MSV-Arena to voice their displeasure at the decision. At first, the protests were peaceful, but they soon turned aggressive as several of them forced themselves into the stadium where some minor vandalism occurred. Flares were set off and garbage cans strewn everywhere before the police arrived. The outrage was being expressed toward current CEO Helmut Kentsch and former President Walter Hellmich. Banners were hung blaming the two for the "death" of the club. The MSV-Arena's current owner/operator is Hellmich GMBH. Several flags around the stadium with the Hellmich logo on them were pulled down and burned by the crowd.
Falling out of the professional ranks for a historic club like Duisburg would be awful for German football. They were one of the founding clubs of the Bundesliga in 1963 and even managed a second place finish that season. After 19 years in the top flight, they were relegated to the 2.Bundesliga at the end of the 1981-82 season and have been yo-yoing between the two divisions ever since. Hopefully, this will all be sorted out, and Duisburg will remain in the top flight. If not... Auf Wiedersehen, Zebras.