With only 29 points and 9 matches to go, 1.FC Kaiserslautern are battling to avoid a drop into the Regionalliga and facing the very real prospect of having to move from The Fritz Walter Stadion (also known as 'The Betzenberg' or 'The Betze'). A real classic of German football, the huge concrete cube overlooking the city of Kaiserslautern below was for a long time one of the most feared away grounds in the Bundesliga - not just for the famous Hölle Betzenberg roar from the partisan home crowd but also for the breathless hike up to the stadium. However, with the club struggling at the wrong end of the 3.Liga table and only just avoiding insolvency a few months ago, the dire financial reality of operating a 50,000-capacity stadium in the fourth tier is already being discussed in meetings between the city council and the club.
"Everyone knows the problems the club has with the stadium since they have stopped playing in the Bundesliga. As beautiful and atmospheric the Betzenberg is, it is difficult to maintain this scenario after a descent" said managing director Soeren Oliver Voigt. According to German broadcaster SWR, one of the suggestions is to waive the annual €650,000 rent the city currently charge the club to use the ground - part of an agreement drawn up the last time they bailed FCK out of financial mess back in 2001. This is unlikely to gain backing however as the amount is already a fifth of the €3.2 million the city authorities would have stood to receive each year had the club not gone into a tailspin and stayed in the Bundesliga. As it is, the city council are already subsidising the shortfall just to ensure the stadium management company operating the Fritz Walter Stadion don't run at a loss.
SWR have therefore looked at possible alternative venues should one of Germany's most legendary clubs be forced out of Kaiserslautern with stadiums at SV Alsenborn, FK Pirmasens, FC 08 Homburg, Borussia Neunkirchen and ABC Ludwigshafen all being considered.