Several hundred MSV Duisburg supporters gathered on the grounds of the Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena late Wednesday evening to display displeasure toward the club’s inability to secure their 2. Bundesliga license, as announced hours earlier by the German Football League Association (DFL).
Dozens among the hundreds decided to force entry into the stadium itself, lighting flares and throwing garbage cans before helmet-clad police formed a cordon to chase the trespassers from the premises.
According to a police spokesperson, no personal injuries were reported, despite a few outbreaks of fisticuffs.
Much of the outrage being voiced outside the stadium targeted former club president and patron Walter Hellmich and current CEO Helmut Kentsch. Banners hung in front of the stadium used profanity toward the pair and charged them with the death of the club.
Three flagpoles with Hellmich’s company logo were ripped from the ground and the flags themselves burned in front of the cheering crowd.
Hellmich, only months earlier, was being lauded as a hero for supplying funds to allow the club to avoid bankruptcy. Though the construction tycoon reported to have already contributed 600,000 Euro to the cause in December, he says more money was available to help the club.
“I am shocked. This is an absolute catastrophe,” said Hellmich in response to the DFL decision. “Had the MSV leadership said to me they needed more money, then I would have given it.
“I have no idea how this could have happened. We assumed as of last week we would receive the licence. For me, this is an absolute worst-case scenario.”
Despite the recent brush with insolvency and late-night meetings shortly before the DFL paperwork deadline to find a way to close further financial gaps (3 million Euro, according to derWesten.de) , club personnel unilaterally expressed surprise in response to Wednesday’s announcement.
“Words fail,” was the reaction of MSV sporting director Ivica Grlic. “The decision came out of the blue. The club has the opportunity to lodge an appeal, and I still believe that we will obtain the license.”
MSV Duisburg posted on their official website that they expect to receive written notice of the decision early next week, at which point they can properly review and respond. The club has seven days upon receipt to lodge their appeal.
“We have only the information that we did not submit the documents on time,” clarified MSV spokesman Martin Haltermann. “In the coming days, many people in Duisburg will do everything they can to assure there continues to be professional football here.”
At risk for the tradition-rich club is an end to a 24-year run among the professionals for the Zebras. Should the decision of the DFL stand, the MSV will be relegated to the fourth tier of the German footballing system.
Standing by is SV Sandhausen, who had apparently secured their own relegation early in May. Should the Zebras be sent to the Regionalliga, Sandhausen would suddenly find themselves with an accidental retention of class and an unexpected second-league address for a second-consecutive season.