George Bello’s late own goal not only handed Bochum victory in this Friday night Bundesliga contest, but is a decisive blow in Arminia’s lingering hopes of survival. Their only chance would be to beat RB Leipzig and hope Bayern Munich and Cologne do them favors against Stuttgart.
Not a great prognosis for Arminia, who have had a great ride in their two years back in the big time – but matters are out of their hands. The game’s late winner, Bello’s misfortunate attempted clearance, summed things up for Arminia, who have lost 8 of their last 10, drawn the other two, and scored just four goals in that time.
It’s not over however, but it’s a case of second-season syndrome for Arminia. Their first away win back in the big time was a sweet one, away at Schalke in Gelsenkirchen, also in the Ruhr valley. Uwe Neuhaus’ men went on to excitement with wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Freiburg – and another over Schalke for good measure.
The scoreline says it all for Arminia.
But this season’s highlights reel has been much shorter, with coach Neuhaus’ sacking earlier in April 2021 the beginning of the end on the field. Neuhaus’ substitute Frank Kramer initially did well before struggling, before latest coach Marco Kostmann struggled already more.
With goalkeeper Stefan Ortega out of contract this summer too, the club will also lose their best player for free.
Saved from extinction
Arminia have come by worse though – off the field at the minimum. Insolvency pushed the club into an existential crisis in the winter of 2017/18. Almost €30 million ($34 million) in the red, the club was facing the removal of its license by the German Football Association (DFL).
A 15-year financial restructuring plan was put in place for Arminia, whose stadium was moved out of its hands in early 2018 and into those of a local business consortium. Arminia pays this consortium €800,000-a-year in rent for their stadium, the Schüco Arena, or the Alm, as its known to fans.
As it became clear that Arminia’s fight was an existential one, the city’s business which include some household names in Germany, came together to sustain the club. Schüco being one, of course, and Dr. Oetker perhaps the most famous.
An ashen-faced Marco Kostmann talks to Arminia fans following the defeat in Bochum.
This safety net gave Arminia the opportunity to already compete in the Bundesliga, and next year the club has the option to reacquire their stadium. That would of course be a symbolic moment given where the club was a little over four years ago.
Arminia’s lowest point came in 2014 when the club was relegated to the 3. Bundesliga, but this is a club who have had 10 relegations or promotions this century – the dictionary definition of a yo-yo club. They’re almost down, probably out, but they will be back.
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