Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The 1974-75 marked a significant shift in European football: England no longer was considered the best championship – West Germany edged the Brits and became the best domestic championship for the rest of 1970s. It was not only the most entertaining, but also financially the best. Sound German clubs maintained financial stability when English football was plummeting into financial troubles and increasing debts. German clubs were paying top salaries; played attractive football; and had very good recruiting policies – unlike Spain, the German clubs hardly looked for superstars, but for able players fitting well into club’s concepts. The Germans were building strong squads, not a show. The show was secondary, but eventually followed – strong teams playing total football amounted to competitive and entertaining championship, increasingly attracting foreign stars: if Cruyff and Netzer elected to play in Spain, Keegan preferred to move to Germany – the quality of the game was higher. And, from 1975 on, West Germany had more high profile players spread in the clubs than Spain. For foreign stars West Germany was the championship to be. The strong position of German football was further reinforced by the introduction of the Second Professional Division – 1974-75 was the first season of the Second Bundesliga. In fact – two Second Divisions: Northern and Southern, each 20 teams strong. The Germans were clearly aiming to keep their top position in world football: fully professional second division provided stable quality – no more relegated club had to fear bankruptcy by playing with semi-professional and amateur clubs; a professional second division club was able to plan better future by recruiting good players. At the end, it was to be prosperous future for German clubs and maintaining class. It was building on success, preserving the success, and aiming at more success. And it was very German approach – very careful and thorough building and investing: the Second Division was introduced a good ten years after the establishment of the Bundesliga. Just good planning, nothing rush.
Forming the Second Bundesliga was another matter. First of all, it was decided that from this season 3 clubs were to be relegated from Bundesliga – and replaced by the winners of the the two Second Divisions, plus the winners of 2-legged play off between the second placed clubs. But it was a decision to affect 1975 – in 1974 two clubs came down from the top: Fortuna (Koln) and Hannover 96. Since the new leagues were geographically divided, both clubs ended in the North Second Bundelsiga. The other 38 clubs were to meet some ‘sound’ criteria – first of all, financial one. It was not easy – so far 5 Regional leagues served as second level of German football structure. Football in the South was stronger and better financially off and this affected the methods of selecting clubs for the new leagues: the two Southern Regionalligas made aggregate tables of the total points of the participating clubs in the 1973-74 – a total record of their results from 1969 to 1974. SV Alsenborn ended 5th by total points in Regianalliga Sudwest, but was denied 2nd Bundesliga license and 1. FC Saarbrucken took the spot instead.
Reginalliga Sud total table provided anomaly: Hessen Kassel, Freiburger FC, and Jahn Regensburg were highly placed by their 5-years totals, but the three clubs ended in the relegation zone in the 1973-74 championship and were barred from gaining access to the new league.
At the end, the first South Second Bundesliga was completed, played the inaugural season, and produced the first final table: 1. Karlsruher SC, 2. FK Pirmasens, 3. FC Schweinfurt 05, 4. FC Bayern Hof, 5. TSV Munchen 1860, 6. 1.FC Nurnberg, 7. 1.FC Saarbrucken, 8. SV Waldhof Mannheim, 9. SpVgg Bayreuth, 10. SV Darmstadt 98, 11. FSV Mainz 05, 12. FC Augsburg, 13. SV Rochling Volklingen, 14. FC Homburg, 15. SpVgg Furth, 16. Stuttgarter Kickers, 17. VfR Heilbronn, 18. Borussia Neunkirchen, 19. VfR Wormatia Worms, 20. VfR Mannheim.
The first champion, directly promoted for the Bundesliga was Karlsruher SC.