German football club MSV Duisburg have not been granted a license to play second tier football next season. The club face relegation to the third division after not meeting a deadline for financial requirements.
The German football federation DFB on Wednesday announced the football league's licensing committee said Duisburg had not met the May 23 deadline for financial requirements for next season.
The club confirmed the news in a statement on their website, saying they "remain convinced, however, that they have fulfilled the conditions and obligations" set forth by the league. Duisburg, who finished the season in 11th place, still have the opportunity to appeal the ruling before an arbitration panel within one week of receiving a written decision from the football league.
Should court rule against Duisburg, the northwestern club would be relegated instead of SV Sandhausen, who ended the second division campaign in 17th place. Duisburg last played in the German top flight during the 2007-08 season.
The reaction from Duisburg officials was total surprise.
"This is a catastrophe. I have no idea how this could have happened. We had assumed in the last week that we would still receive the license," stadium investor and former club president Walter Hellmich told the DPA news agency.
"There are no words. The decision came completely out of the blue," said Duisburg sporting director Ivica Grlic to the "Express" regional newspaper, adding that he still thought the club would get its license after appeal.
Just a week earlier the mood around Duisburg was optimistic. The club had said it had avoided financial collapse and filed the appropriate paperwork just before the deadline. Duisburg officials had apparently been working anxiously for days to bridge the club's approximately three million euro ($3.89 million) financial gap.
The club's managing director Roland Kentsch, however, expressed some doubts about correcting Duisburg's finances at the annual club members' meeting earlier this month.
"I can't promise that we'll do it," he said. "If we can't satisfy the conditions in time, insolvency would be inevitable."
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, their best result to date. Duisburg have also finished runners-up four times in the German Cup, most recently in 2011.
dr/hc (dpa, SID)