Wuppertaler SV continues as the laughing stock of German football. After several horrible games the club decied to take “decisive” action…and fired the head coach, Peter Radowjewski. In theory, WSV could still get relegated from the Regionalliga West, as their collapse has left them only 7 points above the drop zone, although I would think it would be pretty hard to make that “achievement”.
Much more interesting is what’s been going on behind the scenes. A few months ago the “sugar daddy” President, Friedhelm Runge, finally resigned after being fed up being constantly verbally abused by the local fans. Now he’s put a lot of money into the club (mainly as the owner of the main sponsor, EMKA), but he’s also run it like a dictator for over 20 years. So most fans felt “good riddance”. However, he apparently appointed some puppets to run the club in his absence, and they have suitably acted like his lapdogs. He doesn’t want to let go, and the recent coach firing has his fingerprints all over it.
Now recently there has been an interesting development, as some members and businessmen have launched the “Initiative WSV 2.0” which seeks a rebirth of the club. As part of the rebirth, the club would go into voluntary insolvency, which would mean forcible relegation into the 5th division Oberliga. While this sounds drastic, this seems the only way for the club to start fresh, and would mean cutting the ties with Runge and his cronies. The budget would be slashed to around 800,000 euros, of which only about 300,000 would be for the first team. (Much else for WSV-II and youth squads). The plan would be a gradual buildup to competitiveness with the eventual goal of “finally watching WSV on TV again” (which basically means the 3.Liga). It’s not too far-fetched, as the WSV-II squad is already in the Oberliga and in the upper half of the table. But the emphasis would be on sound financial management and partnerships with the city and business.
Predictably, the current leaders didn’t comment until Runge had his say. First of all, EMKA would withdraw sponsorship if the club went into insolvency. Instead, their “plan” is to keep WSV “in the highest possible division” and then get promoted. Supposedly this would mean a budget of 3.5 million euros and a “star ensemble” to gain promotion to the 3.Liga. Presumably this money would come from Runge and EMKA, since nobody else would try and fund this silliness. (And of course the club would assume even more debt). The point was made that “it’s insane to voluntarily go down” and only “Rot-Weiss Essen was successful in doing so, and they’re a bigger club and city than Wuppertal”. Well, they are correct that RWE has been rebuilding, and draws pretty decent crowds in the Regionalliga. And they seem on the right track to challenge for 3.Liga promotion soon. But they’re starting with a sound base, which is clearly lacking at WSV.
Anyway, a “extraordinary” membership meeting will be called and the membership will have a vote. The WSV2.0 crowd are running a slate of candidates to support insolvency and restructuring, and of course the current incumbent clowns want to “stay the course”.
Conspiracy theorists are already telling tales of missing invitations.
This is an interesting story, because it’s not unusual in the lower divisions of German football, far removed from “37 million for Mario Götze” that is plastered all over the place. But the trials and tribulations of the small clubs is what gives German football it’s edge, so it’s worth being reminded of it every once in a while….