Red Bull buys East German fifth division football team | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 06.07.2009
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Red Bull buys East German fifth division football team

The founder of the energy drink Red Bull is sponsoring an eastern German soccer club. The Austrian billionaire's new fifth league team is named Rasenballsport (RB) Leipzig, and he wants it in the Bundesliga.

RB Leipzig players

Red bull's new soccer team hopes to emulate the success of TSG Hoffenheim

No prizes for guessing what you are meant to associate with the team's new initials.

Still, who could blame it? For the small-time club formerly known as SSV Markranstaedt on the quiet outskirts of Leipzig, the corporate reference is hardly an onerous price to pay for a shot at the major league.

"A global company as a sponsor, what could be better," SSV Markranstaedt manager Holger Nussbaum told the local Leipziger Volkszeitung.

The regional football association has given its approval, the contracts have been signed, and details of the venture are being worked out. Practice is set to begin any day.

"In the long run, we are aiming for the German premier league. As a rule, we reach our goals, so that is what we are hoping for in Leipzig as well," says Red Bull founder, Dietrich Mateschitz.

Mateschitz is going even further than Dietmar Hopp, who funded small-town team TSV Hoffenheim and helped it reach the Bundesliga. He, at least, was a local businessman, but the only link that Mateschitz has with RB Leipzig is the initials of his product.

Lofty goals

A sponsor for many different sports, Red Bull already owns a football club in Austria, the Red Bull Salzburg team, as well as the US team Red Bull New York. The energy drink firm funds soccer schools in Ghana and Brazil, and owns Red Bull Racing, the former Ford Jaguar Racing Formula One team.

“We want to help give soccer in the region the significance it deserves,” says Red Bull Soccer manager Markus Egger. ”Red Bull is not coming to Leipzig to take anything away - on the contrary.”

Two of RB Leipzig's arch rivals had hoped to win Red Bull as a sponsor for themselves. But in the end, FC Sachsen and 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig lost out to Markranstaedt because the former faces insolvency and the latter is known for provoking match riots.

For the time being, Red Bull's new soccer team will play in the "Stadion am Bad" (capacity: 5,500 spectators) in Markranstaedt – but the club has aspirations to sail through the divisions as soon as possible, and move into the world cup stadium in Leipzig, which seats 45,000 people.

Eight new players, together with coaches Tino Vogel, Lars Weissenberger, and goalie coach Perry Braeutigam, are expected to manage the leap from fifth to first division. As far as money is concerned, the sky is the limit, says Red Bull Soccer chief Egger.

“We will provide the funds that are necessary, there is no upper limit.”

Editor: Nathan Witkop

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