MSV Duisburg Showed their Stripes; the DFL Showed them the Door

In Frankfurt, an arbitration court ruled Wednesday in favor of the DFL in their refusal to license MSV Duisburg for the 2. Bundesliga. The dismissal of the club’s appeal of the original decision means MSV Duisburg will be relegated from the league.

“Naturally, we are disappointed after the efforts of the last few weeks,” said MSV CEO Udo Kirmse in response to the ruling, “but also had to prepare for such a decision.”

Kirmse said club leadership, while preparing their appeal, was simultaneously preparing vigorously for a season in 3. Liga. The club had already applied for a license to play in the third league before the final court decision had been announced.

On May 29, the DFB announced they would not grant MSV Duisburg a second-league license due to a failure to sufficiently show fiscal liquidity in club financial documentation. Without significant improvement in the financial records in their third-league application, the club could find themselves dropping down yet another tier into the Regionalliga West.

Playing off their “Zebras” nickname, the club recently launched a campaign to rally supporters, asking everyone to “Zeig Streifen JETZT!” (Show stripes NOW!), the highlight of which was the formation of a 3500-person human chain spanning the 5 kilometers between the Duisburg city hall and MSV-Arena.

With the third league now being a best-case scenario, the sustenance of the enthusiasm shown by supporters in recent weeks will be tested, especially as the majority of players currently with the club will be able to leave. their contracts no longer valid in the new, lower league, whichever it may be.

Interest surrounding top talents such as keeper Felix Wiedwald, striker Sören Brandy, and central forward Maurice Exslager is likely only to increase as a result of Tuesday’s announcement.

The future of trainer Kosta Runjaic also is now up in the air. Having taken over a team that opened with no point in four matches and having been outscored 12-2 along the way, Runjaic quickly turned things around for the Zebras, getting the club clear of the relegation zone before the end of the Hinrunde and never returning to that neighborhood, finishing the season 11th in the table.

MSV Duisburg, since joining the Bundesliga in 1963 as a founding member, has played outside the top two German leagues only once, taking the drop after finishing 20th in the 1985-86 second-league table. The Zebras recovered to win their third season in the now-defunkt Oberliga Nordrhein and gained promotion back to 2 Bundesliga.

SV Sandhausen, who finished 17th in the 2012-13 2. Bundesliga table, will remain in the league, filling the vacancy left by Duisburg’s relegation.

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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