November 19, 2017

FC Erzgebirge Aue Makes Members Their Jersey Sponsors

“Because we are different!”

That’s as good a reason as any to eschew a jersey sponsor for a season and use the area normally reserved for the name of a company instead for a tribute to your membership.

FC Erzgebirge Aue will be playing in the 3. Liga this season after their five-year run in the 2. Bundesliga finished with relegation last month. Yet, instead of looking at the success of neighboring RB Leipzig and looking around for the best corporate backing they could find to help return them to the second division, Aue is doubling-down on remaining true to their “club” nature.

The word “Kumpelverein,” which serves as a focal point of the logo to be featured on Aue’s jerseys this season, is not the name of some new tech company that is revolutionizing the mining industry that is so prominent in Aue’s corner of Saxony. Instead, it refers to the Verein (club) seeing itself as being the sum of its membership.

Kumpel is a word that does not have a strong single-word English translation. Think of how you refer to your group of friends with whom you enjoy momentous occasions. The word you use to complete “I had such a great time last night just going out with my . . . ,” that’s Kumpel, whether you trend toward buddies, pals, mates, bros, chums, or what have you.

Aue’s membership card, which features the same logo as the jerseys this season.

Above “Kumpelverein,” you have an illustration representing the miners of Aue’s mining history. Below, “weil wir anders sind” explains that it’s all “because we are different.”

While the gesture speaks beautifully to the soul of the football romantic, modern-day football requires tribute mostly in the form of cash, rather than charm. Hence, the club is hoping to compensate for some of the revenue lost by pushing for a huge boost in membership.

“We have gained 600 new members within three weeks after relegation,” said club CEO Michael Voigt last week. “With the jersey campaign, we are trying to get more than 5000.”

The club announced on Facebook Friday that they’d eclipsed the 4,000-member mark.

Stadium improvements also on their way to Aue.

In addition to the increase in membership, FC Erzgebirge Aue is also celebrating victory in their three-year campaign to win approval of improvements to Sparkassen-Erzgebirgsstadion, with an eye toward making Aue’s football home a more-modern facility.

Whether the positive momentum for the club in off-field matters will help motivate the football concerns to a direct return to 2. Bundesliga remains to be seen. Whatever happens, though, club president Helge Leonhardt seems happy with the direction of die Veilchen.

“This makes us proud and distinguishes us from the rest of Germany.”

 

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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.