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Kaiserslautern search for new coach after Korkut's surprise resignation

Four-time German champions Kaiserslautern have a lot on their plate this holiday season after Tayfun Korkut's abrupt exit. But with another year in the second tier almost inevitable, reality is beginning to bite hard.

Kaiserslautern were one of Germany's eminent clubs in the 1990s. International fixtures were almost habitual, and the names of the Red Devils' stars of that decade, such as Michael Ballack and Youri Djorkaeff were synonymous with Kaiserslautern's Champions League and UEFA Cup campaigns.

But now Kaiserslautern are in a precarious situation as they stumble towards their fifth successive season in Germany's second division. With financial problems looming, the club was thrown into crisis mode this week when 42-year-old head coach Tayfun Korkut handed in his resignation to the surprise of Kaiserslautern's supervisory board.

Kaiserslautern, 13th in the second division, have gone through five coaches in four seasons, with Korkut lasting just six months and 18 matches in charge. The former Hannover coach has yet to comment on the reason for his shock departure. 

Formers Bundesliga coaches Bruno Labbadia and Andre Breitenreiter, and Sven Demandt of fourth-tier side Rot-Weiss Essen are believed to be the front-runners for the post.

"This step came suddenly and surprised us all," sporting director Uve Stöver told reporters on Tuesday. "We began the search for suitable candidates immediately."

Deutschland FC St. Pauli - 1. FC Kaiserslautern (picture alliance/dpa/S. Sudheim)

Kaiserslautern last won the German title in 1998, but haven't returned to the Bundesliga since relegation in 2012.

One win in last six matches in the second division, including two scoreless draws at home, has seen attendances at Kaiserslautern's 49,000-seater Betzenberg Stadium drop to under 20,000. 

This summer, the club was forced to sell Jean Zimmer (Stuttgart), Marian Müller (RB Leipzig) and Jon Dadi Bovarsson (Wolverhampton) to balance the books. At the club's annual general meeting in November, there were some candid appraisals of Kaiserslautern's finances after another year in the red.

"We can't set up for another five years in the second division - we won't make it financially," Michael Klatt, the club's chief financial officer told regional newspaper "Die Rheinpfalz."

"There are two scenarios for this club - in the long run: Bundesliga or Regionalliga (fourth tier). If it doesn't work with the strategic partners, we need to worry about serious cuts."