UPDATED FOR 2023-24 - AUGUST 2023
Founded: Aug 28, 1912
Club Members: 2,650
Nickname: Die Schwäne
Coach: Rico Schmitt
Captain: Davy Frick
DDR Oberliga Champions: 1
Regionalliga Nordost: 1
Known as the 'Detroit of East Germany', Zwickau has a rich motor heritage and was once home to the terrible, wonderful and wonderfully terrible Trabant - the noisy, smoke-belching little car that 'gave communism a bad name' before becoming a symbol of freedom when the Berlin Wall fell. It was built in the 1950s as an affordable 'People's Car' despite a crippling shortage of materials and although it soon disappeared from German roads after re-unification, Ostalgie (nostalgia for the GDR Zeitgeist) kicked in and the humble 'Trabi' became a cultural icon. Football may not have been viewed with the same affection in state socialist East Germany but the resourcefulness in Zwickau to do more with less was evident as the Oberliga's first ever champions survived the dissolution of a league, a nation and near-bankruptcy to earn their place in the unified German game today.
Like many clubs in the former East Germany, FSV Zwickau's history is far from linear and began in 1912 with the formation of a long-forgotten club called FC Planitz. After a series of name changes which saw them become Planitzer SC, SV Planitz and then back to Planitzer SC; the newcomers began life in one of the wild associations of early German football before joining clubs from Saxony, Saxony-Anholt and Thuringa in the Mitteldeutsche Fußball Meisterschaft (Central German Football Championship) in 1922 - becoming champions in 1929 and 1931. After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, football was restructured in Germany with the creation of the Gauliga which funnelled clubs into 16 regional divisions and after slow but steady progress, Planitzer beat Saxon rivals Dresdner SC to the Gauliga Sachsen title in 1942 before reaching the National Championship quarter-finals the following season. The Gauliga system only lasted for 11 years however before the Second World War, the fall of the Nazi regime and the subsequent Soviet occupation led to all sports clubs being forced to dissolve - and Planitzer SC were no more.
As football and dictatorship untangled themselves after the conflict; with no team to support, the city was on the look-out for an 'ideologically safe' representative - one that didn't have any links to the Nazis as the Allies intensified their efforts to stamp out fascism. A new club called SG Planitz emerged from the 'Stunde Null ' (Zero Hour) in 1946 and became champions of the Soviet-controlled 'Ostzone' (East Zone) a couple of years later after a 1-0 play-off victory over SG Freiimfelde Halle in Leipzig. The title win was supposed to see Planitz represent 'the east' in the national championships but simmering tensions between the Soviets and Western Allies saw the Saxons denied permission to travel to Stuttgart for a first round match against 1.FC Nürnberg who, incidentally, went on to claim the national title that year.
In 1949, not long after another name change - this time to ZSG Horch Zwickau - the club became one of the founding member clubs of the top flight DDR-Oberliga and took to life in the new league straight away by becoming its inaugural champions. The triumph was mired in controversy however after a contentious victory at title rivals SG Dresden Friedrichstadt on the final day of the season in what became known as the 'Skandalspiel ' (Scandal Game). It was said that the state - which had total control of everyday life including football - had decided that the Dresdners were 'too bourgeois' and amidst widespread rumours of bribery and corruption, ZSG were allowed to 'kick anything above the grass tops' by the suspiciously pro-Zwickau referee Willi Schmidt. He also refused to allow the home side any substitutions despite injuries to Walter Kreisch, Henry Steinbach and Henry Kessler which left them with only eight players on the pitch. ZSG 'won' 5-1 but furious at the sense of injustice, the Dresden fans invaded the pitch at full-time and proceeded to beat up Zwickau's captain, and former Dresden favourite, Helmut Schubert before mounted police were called to restore order. To rub further salt in the Dresdeners' wounds, in a move bearing all the hallmarks that would later become de rigeur in state socialist East Germany, within weeks their side had been broken up by the authorities and the best players cherry-picked by rival clubs - although most eventually defected to the West Berlin 'Island of Freedom' to play for Hertha Berlin.
A year later, ZSG were joined by the footballers of BSG Aktivist Steinkohle Zwickau to form BSG Horch Zwickau before another name change in 1951 saw them become BSG Motor Zwickau and, after several seasons of middle order ranking, they lifted their first FDGR-Pokal trophy in 1963. Another FDGR-Pokal followed in 1967 before football fans in Zwickau once again had to pledge their football allegiances and form new rivalries when BSG Motor Zwickau and BSG Aktivist Karl Marx Zwickau joined forces in 1968 to form BSG Sachsenring Zwickau. After securing a third FDGR-Pokal in 1975 and their legendary goalkeeper Jürgen Croy defying Stasi orders to leave his hometown club, BSG enjoyed a fine run to the semi-finals of the following season's European Cup Winners Cup, dumping Panathinaikos, AC Fiorentina and Celtic out of the competition before falling to eventual winners RSC Anderlecht who beat West Ham United in the final.
BSG never got close to European glory again but remained a solid DDR-Oberliga side - spending all but six seasons in the top flight up until the end of the 1980s despite the rise of hooliganism and widespread corruption destabilising the once-great league. By then however, the winds of change were blowing across Europe as socio-political events superseded sport and as the Berlin Wall fell and a demographic exodus headed west, football across the unified Germany was re-organised.
Now known as FSV Zwickau, the club began the post-Wende era in the third-tier NOFV-Oberliga Süd and won promotion to Bundesliga.2 in 1994 where they bobbed about for a few seasons before beginning a slide into the lower leagues - ending up in the fifth-tier Landesliga Sachsen by 2005. Players and managers came and went as Zwickau desperately tried to regain their footing but like many former East German clubs post-reunification, an inability to adapt to the free-market Bundesliga brought them to the brink of bankruptcy and a restructuring plan involving creditors, city authorities and fans was needed to walk the club back from the cliff edge.
Securing their financial future seemed to liberate Zwickau on the pitch and as the storm clouds lifted, they began a resurgence that saw them rise to the fourth-tier Regionalliga Nordost in 2012 and, after holding off the challenge of Berliner AK 07 to become north-east champions, beat Regionalliga Südwest side SV Elversberg in a play-off to secure promotion to the 3.Liga in 2016. After eight years in professional football however, performances eventually tailed off and against a backdrop of increasing financial problems that continues to threaten the very existence of the club, Die Schwäne were relegated to the Regionalliga Nordost at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.
Ground Name: GGZ Arena
Architect: ARC Architektur
Construction Costs: €21m
Built: 2015 - 2016
Year Opened: 2016
Capacity: 10,134 (3,771 standing)
Record Attendance: 10,134 (2016)
Business Seats: 350
Wheelchair Spaces: 96
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Floodlights: 800 lux
LED Video Screen: 36m²
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Westsachsenkampfbahn (1942 - 1949)
Georgi Dimitroff Stadion (1949 - 1990) *
Westsachsenstadion (1990 - 2010) *
Sportforum Soyuz 31 (2010 - 2016)
Stadion Zwickau (2016 - 2019)
GGZ Arena (2019 - ) *
* Stadium Renamed
The GGZ Arena was built to replace the historic Westsachsenstadion which had been home to many of Zwickau's myriad predecessor clubs before falling into a state of disrepair as football clubs in the former GDR struggled financially post-reunification.
In 2010, FSV temporarily moved into the Sportforum 'Soyuz 31' (named after the Soviet rocket that took the first German - Sigmund Jähn - into space in 1978) after the decision was made to give the Westsachsenstadion a new lease of life. However, escalating costs and an inability to bridge the estimated €15 million shortfall meant that the project was stopped in its tracks and legal battles are still being fought today in the courts between the city of Zwickau and architects who want paying for their work.
After weighing up all the options, the plan to build a new arena for the club in the Eckersbach district of Zwickau instead was approved by the city authorities in April 2012. Work didn't start until February 2015 but because the site had already been levelled following the demolition of Zwickau's largest housing estate, the new arena was ready just 18 months later and opened as the Stadion Zwickau for a DFB-Pokal match against Hamburger SV on August 22nd 2016. In June 2019, the stadium was renamed the GGZ Arena after naming rights were sold to a local construction firm.
A pure football venue with four separate single tier stands of identical height and a capacity of 10,134, the largely prefab ground is built a few metres below ground level on landfill with limited infrastructure in order to save construction costs. Even though all the stands are covered, their 'open' design lacks any form of cladding at either end or along the back to protect fans from wind and rain - essential, one would have thought, for a ground built on a hilltop. The all-seater Westtribüne (the main stand) has a row of executive boxes running part way along the back and the changing rooms, media facilities and club offices are also found here in a smart three-storey glass fronted building.
To save money and leave the corners of the ground clear for possible future expansion, four twin-mast floodlights have been installed on the Westtribüne and the opposite ZEV Tribüne which is also an all-seater affair running the full length of the pitch with 'FSV ZWICKAU ' spelt out in white against the otherwise red bank of seating.
Both stands behind the goals are narrow in width, with the fully terraced 2,500 capacity Fankurve E5 (Block B) at the north end of the ground being home to the Red Kaos - one of the oldest and most iconic fan groups in Germany - and up to 1,271 away fans given Block D in the part-terraced Südtribüne. An impressive video screen in the south-east corner of the ground completes the look of the GGZ Arena.
2022-2023: 5,163 (3.Liga)
2021-2022: 3,024 (3.Liga) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 3,812 (3.Liga) *
2018-2019: 5,225 (3.Liga)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
The club website and online ticket shop are both 'auf Deutsch ' but non-German speakers can get around the issue easily enough thanks to Google Translate which makes booking tickets through the club's ticketing partner 'Vivenu' a straightforward process. Tickets can also be bought by visiting the box office which opens outside the ground 90 minutes before kick-off or from the Schwäneshop in Zwickau (Scheffelstraße 43, 08066 Zwickau; 10am-2pm, Tue-Wed; 2pm-6pm, Thu-Fri; open from three hours before kick-off on a matchday; tel: +49 (0) 375 20038818; email: email@example.com).
FSV never come close to selling out their matches and so even when they're deciding Erzgebirge supremacy against Aue or renewing old GDR rivalries against Hallescher, getting hold of a ticket this season shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Zwickau adjust their ticket prices depending on the quality of opposition facing Die Schwäne on any given matchday and so these prices should be regarded as the minimum you can expect to pay for an afternoon of football at the GGZ Arena.
To sit in the Westtribüne, it's €21-25 for adults and €18-21 for seniors and concessions. It's €17-22 for adults to watch the action from the ZEV Tribüne or Südtribune with seniors and concessions paying €15-19. To watch the action from the E5 Fankurve terrace, adults pay €13 and seniors and concessions will have to part with €11. Children (under-14) cost their parents just €7 for any seat in the ground or €6 to join them on the E5 Fankurve. And for anyone wanting to keep things traditional, an extra €2 is added to the cost of tickets bought from the stadium box office on a matchday.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
If you're coming by car, the simplest advice is to put the address in your Sat-Nav and follow its guidance before picking up signs directing you to car parks around the stadium. The GGZ Arena however is a relatively new-build stadium and so, if you haven't updated it in the past few years, there's a chance your Sat-Nav won't be able to find it. In which case, tell it to head for the junction of Albert Funk Straße and Max Planck Straße which will bring you to the north-east corner of the ground.
If you've arrived at Zwickau HBF, catch Bus 10 to Neumarkt in the town centre from the far side of the bus station outside the main entrance. When you reach Neumarkt, change to Tram 3 (Direction: Eckersbach) for the 10 minute ride to the 'Eckersbach Mitte' stop. As you get off the tram, go up the steps right in front of you and just follow the footpath - and red-shirted Zwickau fans - a couple of hundred metres or so to the turnstiles. Since promotion to the 3.Liga in 2016, match tickets have included the cost of public transport within tariff zone 16 of the Verkehrsverbund Mittelsachsen (VMS) transport network. Not that there's a lot to hang around for at the GGZ Arena post-match but make a note that your ticket is only valid from three hours before to four hours after kick-off - not full-time !
You can reach the GGZ Arena on foot but it's a bit of an effort and will take you about an hour to cover the hilly three mile walk from the train station. If you fancy the exercise however, head downhill along Bahnhofstraße (it's the road off to your left as you come out of the station) and after about half-a-mile, cross Humboldstraße and Georgenplatz before continuing onto Poetenweg. After 100 metres, turn right onto Bosestraße and follow it as it becomes Große Biergasse before heading up the ramp taking you over the Zwickauer Mulde river. Walk along Talstraße (B93) to the junction with Scheffelstraße. Follow the tram tracks running up Scheffelstraße and bear right onto Sternenstraße. After a mostly uphill mile, turn right down Makarenkostraße and then onto Stadionallee which leads you to the stadium.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Schwäneshop (Scheffelstraße 43, 08066 Zwickau; 10am-2pm, Tue-Wed; 2pm-6pm, Thu-Fri; open from three hours before kick-off on a matchday; tel: +49 (0) 375 20038818; email: firstname.lastname@example.org). On a matchday, there's also a pop-up fan shop operating out of what looks like a container unit behind the Fankurve E5 (Block B) at the GGZ Arena. It opens 90 minutes before kick-off and the last sales are made about half-an-hour after the final whistle.
Go behind the scenes on a 60-minute group tour of the GGZ Arena including the dressing rooms, players tunnel, dug-outs, mixed zone and VIP areas. General information about the available tours, schedules and prices can be found here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
The GGZ Arena is built right in the middle of nowhere and because there aren't many options nearby for pre-match food and drink, fans tend to have their fill in the centre of Zwickau before making their way out to the ground.
The usual football fayre is sold in and around the stadium and, although none of it will make the culinary big-time, presumably as a reward for making the effort to reach this footballing outpost, Zwickau have opted against introducing a stadium-card scheme and will let fans pay for beer and a 'Zwigi' (the club's own stadium sausage) with cash.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: 1.FC Union Berlin, RB Leipzig
BUNDESLIGA 2: 1.FC Magdeburg, Hertha Berlin
3.LIGA: FC Erzgebirge Aue, Hallescher FC, SG Dynamo Dresden