Sunday 28 May 2017

A club that was only founded in 2009 just qualified for the Champions League

By Kameron Virk

But they’ll have to wait until June for a Uefa decision on whether they’ll actually be able to take part…

Germany’s “most hated” club, RB Leipzig, guaranteed they’ll be playing Champions League football next season with a 4-0 win over SC Freiburg on Saturday – which is remarkable given they didn’t even exist as recently as 2008.

The Red Bull franchise club were founded when the energy drink company bought the sporting licence for fifth-tier side SVV Markranstadt in 2009, and their most recent win means they can finish no lower than fourth in what’s their first ever season in the Bundesliga.

It might seem like a dream come true for Leipzig fans, and a complete nightmare for plenty of German football supporters, but due to Uefa rules there is still a chance the club will be prohibited from playing in the Champions League.

They will have to wait until June to find out if they’ll be eligible to play, with Uefa stating no two clubs controlled by the same organisation can be involved in the competition at any one time. RB Salzburg currently sit at the top of Austria’s first division, which provides a route to the second Champions League qualifying round.

Leipzig are extremely controversial in Germany, where rules state more than 50% of a club must be owned by its members to ensure supporters have strong voting rights and can protect against the influence of external investors.

RB adhere to the rules, but a “gold” membership costs around €1,000 (£847) a year and doesn’t provide voting rights, and all of its 17 members with voting rights are attached to the Red Bull company. Membership at Germany’s most successful club, Bayern Munich, is around €60 (£50) per year by comparison.

The set-up means the club has become one of Germany’s most hated, with Dortmund fans, of whom 139,000 are paying members with veto rights over things such as ticket prices, boycotting their club’s away trip to Leipzig on the first day of the season.

Other protests have included Dynamo Dresden fans throwing a severed bull’s head on to the pitch during a German cup game, and an ironic one from Hoffenheim – one of the few German clubs owned by an individual – with their supporters holding placards that read “We want our throne back: Germany’s most hated club.”

But, with a potential place in Europe’s marquee competition on the cards, we can’t imagine RB’s supporters care all that much.

Press Association

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