German second division club MSV Duisburg have been denied their league license. They will probably spend next season playing third-tier football, while SV Sandhausen are saved from relegation.
An arbitration court dismissed MSV Duisburg's appeal for their league license after a six-hour meeting in Frankfurt on Wednesday, effectively relegating the club.
"We all feel empty and sad. This is a bad day for MSV and football," said Duisburg Chairman Jürgen Marbach.
There had been several complaints about the license documents submitted by Duisburg, including a computation error and supposed unfair credit terms from sponsors. The league association's licensing committee decided the financial mistakes were grounds to refuse the club's playing status in the second division.
"It wasn't enough, we have to accept it. It was a fair trial and it was not hopeless," said Duisburg's attorney Horst Kletke. "It is sad for MSV, but the arbitration court rejected the suit."
Duisburg, who finished last season in 11th place, are the first club from Germany's first or second tiers to have their license denied since then-second division Tennis Borussia Berlin in 2000.
Joy in Sandhausen
The winners amid Duisburg's misfortune are the southwestern club SV Sandhausen. Despite finishing last season in 17th place, they will avoid relegation.
"We are thrilled," said Otmar Schork, the club's director, told broadcaster Sky. "Now we can make plans with certainty."
Sandhausen President Jürgen Machmeier added: "This is something totally special for us. This is as rare as winning the lottery, what's happened to us."
Duisburg last played in the Bundesliga during the 2007-08 season, but must now prepare for a probable spot in the third tier.
Fans had reacted angrily when news came late last month that Duisburg might lose their second division license, with some staging a protest at the club's grounds. Following the arbitration court's ruling, Marbach appealed for calm.
"I hope that like in the last few days, it remains peaceful," he said.
In 1963, Duisburg, then known as Meidericher SV, were a founding member of the Bundesliga. Led by legendary coach Rudi Gutendorf, the club finished a surprise second in the top tier, their best result to date. Duisburg have also finished runners-up four times in the German Cup, most recently in 2011.
dr/rc (dpa, SID)