Revierderby Rivals Unite to Aid of MSV Duisburg, Help Zebras Gain 3.Liga License

In the face of disaster, it is not uncommon to see people put aside their petty differences and work together to remedy a problem.

While “disaster” might be a bit heavy a label to give the ongoing saga that has been MSV Duisburg’s summer of uncertainty, the financial problems causing so many problems for the Bundesliga founding member have become a topic on which rival clubs Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke can unite, both offering cash loans to help stabilize their troubled neighbor’s balance sheets.

Mere days before club officials were to meet with the DFB in Frankfurt to negotiate a 3.Liga license for the Zebras, hoping to avoid dropping deeper into the German football system,  the MSV appeared they would fall about 600,000€ short of a liquidity standard, which required the club show is has 2M€ in cash on hand as operating capital. Such a shortfall would have been a serious threat to the acquisition of even a third-league license, making a drop to the Oberliga a stark potentiality.

On Friday, offers of 300,000€ loans came from each of the famous neighboring rivals, helping close the fiscal gap, which ultimately lead to Tuesday’s issuance of a license to Duisburg to play in the 3.Liga for the upcoming season.

Speaking to from Majorca, MSV board member Bernard Dietz said of the club’s situation, “You’ll go crazy wondering. Our leaders have given everything in recent weeks. That Schalke and Dortmund are helping us is a huge thing.”

In addition to the loans, both Revier rivals have offered friendly matches to MSV Duisburg to hopefully return stores to their coffers.

With a place in 3.Liga secured, the Zebras can finally go about preparations for the coming season, much of which will involve a significant clean-up job from the aftermath of the forced relegation.

The drop from the second league invalidated many player contracts, giving players the option to leave on free transfers. As the possibility of earning even a third-league license was in doubt, many of the Zebras regular starters from the 2012-13 season will be playing for new clubs this year. Of 15 players who logged over 1200 minutes for Duisburg last season, only three (CB Branimir Bajić, LM Kevin Wolze, and CF Ranisav Jovanović) remain at the club.

Perhaps the largest loss was that of trainer Kosta Runjaic, who took over a foundering club that appeared destined for a direct relegation early last season and guided them toward the middle of the table. Runjaic seemed prepared to stay with the MSV and coach them in the third league, but as the lack of an answer from the DFB made it impossible for the club to plan for the upcoming season, Runjaic decided the situation had become untenable, announcing his resignation to fans in a letter posted on the club website.

Despite the setbacks, the rescue loans from their rival clubs lead to the granting of the 3.Liga license, allowing all concerned to finally move from assembling a defense of financial records to assembling a competitive football club.

Former FC Erzgebirge Aue boss Karsten Baumann has replaced Runjaic and will have ten new players from whom to mold a new squad in the third league.

MSV CEO Udo Kirmse, at a press conference to discuss the gaining of the third-league license, stated the goal of the club was to first consolidate finances, but then, within two years return to the 2.Bundesliga.

Fans have continued their “Show Stripes” campaign of support by purchasing 2,000 season tickets in the first days of availability, with 600 of the moved in the first five hours of business Monday. Fans have also been voicing appreciation via various social media for the assistance offered by Dortmund and Schalke.

For now, however, the focus of the fans will be leveled at their opponent in their 3.Liga, which will be 1. FC Heidenheim, who will come to town Saturday, 20 July to open the season.

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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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