1860 Munich host Bochum with financial future in question
Munich, January 15 - TSV 1860 München management breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday when the club satisfied the DFL's (German Football League) stringent licence regulations to maintain their second division status.
That this has been achieved with more than a little help from fierce local rivals Bayern Munich will be bitter-sweet for 1860 fans. Bayern have allegedly agreed to defer a debt of over EUR 2 million for outstanding payments on ground rental and catering costs. That 1860 have to be thankful for the generosity of what many fans still consider their 'evil big brother' is more than a trifle galling for true Blues supporters.
Traditionalists would still prefer to watch the 'Lions' at the Grünwalder Stadion in Giesing and the current ground 'share' at the Allianz Arena is another large bone of contention.
Drastic cost-cutting activities such as slashing players' and employees' salaries by 10% helped salvage their licence and save over one million Euros. Further measures include laying staff off, cancelling return flights for away fixtures and handing back rental plants and flowers (EUR 15K).
1860 have already been docked two points in the autumn for failing to adhere to league financial regulations and there was a real danger the club could fold.
All this somewhat overshadows 1860's attractive home fixture against improving Bochum (Saturday 1300 kick-off at the Allianz Arena). Bochum are on a decent run of form with four straight wins under experienced coach Friedhelm Funkel and sit just above the Lions in the table in 8th spot.
It really is too tight to call at the top of the second division. Despite the aforementioned 2 point penalty, 1860 sit comfortably within reach of a promotion spot. Hertha Berlin, FC Augsburg, Energie Cottbus and MSV Duisburg look set to battle it out for the two automatic promotion places.
Optimists would still have you believe that 1860 could propel themselves into a play-off position with a decent run of form in the second half of the season. However, considering the financial chaos, this notion seems delusionary. The club would be wise to settle for mid-table mediocrity and simply stay in business.
The Lions quite simply have to sell to survive. As a consequence, any assets are (if at all possible) immediately sold to try and balance the books. Recent examples include Moritz Leitner (18) sold for a million to Dortmund and now farmed out to Augsburg. American Kenny Cooper (26) returned to his homeland with the Portland Timbers taking the injury-prone striker back to the MLS.
And before we know it, in mid-March 1860 will again have to satisfy league licence requirements for the forthcoming 2011/12 season. "We are not the Real Madrid of Giesing, more a working class club which has to cut its cloth accordingly," said CEO Robert Schäfer in justifying the drastic cuts.
1860 lost their proud unbeaten home record in their last game before the winter break with a sloppy defeat against Paderborn. The Lions have scored just 22 goals in 17 games, off-setting a tight defensive record shipping just a goal a game on average. Bochum are without their star North Korean striker Chong Tese, who is away in warmer climes at the Asian Cup in Qatar. The visitors, relegated from the Bundesliga last season, are overdue an away draw (4 wins, 4 defeats), so for me it's a banker draw.
Prediction - 1860 1 Bochum 1