We’re taking you behind the Iron Curtain for our latest series on Football Manager Addict, in a new adventure that will see us work our way through German football with one major target in mind.
In OstDeutscher Sieg (East German Victory) we can only manage football teams based in former East Germany. Our aim is to become the first-ever Bundesliga champion to hail from the former Soviet-ruled area by working our way from the bottom to the top of the German football system.
But first, a couple of brief history lessons to set the scene…
What divided East and West Germany?
On 3 October 1990, present-day Germany was created when the German Democratic Republic was dissolved and its land became part of the Federal Republic of Germany. Before this event, known as German reunification or German unity, the country had existed as East Germany and West Germany, due to zones designated by the Allied nations following World War 2.
From that day forth, East and West Berlin became a single city and Berlin later became the capital of Germany. A more visual representation of this shift was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which actually occurred nearly a year before the official reunification.
A brief history of German football
Football first arrived in Germany courtesy of English ex-pats, who brought the sport to cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig and Stuttgart. That spawned the start of various academic, city and regional leagues before the formation of Deutscher Fußball Bund (the German FA) in 1900.
In 1903, the first recognised national championship match saw VfB Leipzig beat FC Prag 7-2. That spawned an annual knockout tournament to decide the champion of German, which ran until 1944. But the aftermath of World War 2 saw chaos reign in German football as most organisations were dissolved by Allied authorities until a new format, the Oberligen, was created in Western Germany in 1948.
The regional league and national playoff formats remained until 1963 with the creation of the Bundesliga, which saw German football go professional for the first time. The original Bundesliga was formed by 16 teams from Oberligen and introduced the more familiar round-robin format. However, clubs in East Germany, which was occupied by the Soviets after the war, competed in a separate championship, which continued through to 1991.
Since the formation of Bundesliga 59 years ago, 11 different clubs have been crowned the champion of Germany. Not counting pre-Bundesliga days, those are: Bayern Munich (31), Borussia Dortmund (8), Borussia Mönchengladbach (5), Werder Bremen (4), Hamburg (3), Kaiserslautern and Köln (2), and 1860 Munich, Eintracht Braunschweig, Nürnberg and Wolfsburg (1).
A common anomaly there is the lack of an East German club, as no team from East Germany has ever been Bundesliga Champion. So that’s the task that awaits us in OstDeutscher Sieg.
Which East German teams are playable on FM23?
Most of the original East German sides have either been dissolved or dropped way down the German leagues – although there are several in the fourth tier, which isn’t playable on Football Manager. That includes Berliner FC Dynamo (or Dynamo Berlin), which won a record 10 consecutive titles between 1979 and 1988 and now competes in the fourth-tier Regionalliga Nordost. It also includes 1. FC Frankfurt, which was the army club based in Leipzig and won six East German titles and now plays in the sixth-tier Brandenburg-Liga.
However, there are eight football teams based in former East Germany still in existence and playable in Football Manager. They are as follows:
- Dynamo Dresden
- FC Erzgebirge Aue
- Hallescher FC
- FSV Zwickau
- 1. FC Magdeburg
- Hansa Rostock
- RasenBallsport Leipzig
- 1. FC Union Berlin
Who are the playable East German football teams?
So who are these football teams based in East Germany? Here’s a brief history of our potential playable clubs in this adventure and what to expect if, or possibly when, we eventually take charge of them.
Dynamo Dresden: You’ve probably heard of the 8-time East German champions and 7-time cup winners as they have a bit of a hipster following. Dresden qualified for the first unified Bundesliga in 1991 and stayed there for 4 years but the debt-ridden was demoted to the third tier in 1995 then dropped into the 4th tier a few years later during a restructuring of the league pyramid. They’ve crawled their way back up led largely by their fanatical supporters and came close to reaching Bundesliga in 2017, were relegated to tier 3 in 2018, but got back to the 2nd tier in 2020.
FC Erzgebirge Aue: Erzgebirge Aue was in Bundesliga 2 for six years before being relegated last season. It plays in the city of Aue-Bad Schlema, which has a population of around 20,800 and is one of the smallest cities to ever host a second-tier German club game. Looking further back in time, the club was dominant in 1950s East Germany, winning 4 titles and an East German Cup. They’re not without a little controversy as in February 2015 fans unfurled two banners that compared opponents RB Leipzig (who we’ll discuss shortly) to the Nazis.
Hallescher FC: Also known as Chemie Halle, the club was in East Germany’s top tier and won it twice before the reunification. But it suffered with financial issues as a result of the economic decline in the region, falling into the amateur leagues in the 1990s. But it climbed its way back up the ladder to return to the professional leagues in 2012.
FSV Zwickau: Zwickau has the honour of being the first-ever champion of East Germany in 1950, under its former name ZSG Horch Zwickau. The club has undergone various name changes and mergers through the years, which are a little too confusing to jot down here. But found itself in tier 3 after reunification and was promoted to Bundesliga 2 in 1994. That lasted for four seasons and two more relegations saw financial issues strike in 2005, which sent them into tier 5. But they climbed through the leagues to reach tier 3 again in 2016.
1. FC Magdeburg: Some might say Magdeburg is the greatest East German side in the ‘modern-day.’ That’s because they are the only team based in East Germany to win a European trophy, after they beat AC Milan in the Cup Winners’ Cup Final in 1974. However, the club has struggled to hit those heights since reunification, spending most of their time between tiers 3 and 4 and struggling financially. But they were promoted to tier 3 in 2015 and reached Bundesliga 2 for the first and only time in 2018. They also boast fanatical supporters.
Hansa Rostock: Hansa Rostock was the final-ever East German champion in 1991, which saw it moved into Bundesliga with runners-up Dynamo Dresden. Since then, they’ve been one of the most successful of all the East Germany-based sides, including being in Bundesliga from 1995 to 2005. It suffered a decline that culminated in being demoted to tier 3 for only the second time in 2012, but was promoted back to the second tier as champions of 3. Liga in 2021.
1. FC Union Berlin: Union Berlin enjoyed a stellar start to this Bundesliga campaign as, at the time of writing, they sat top of Bundesliga after nine games. The club was technically formed in 1906 with the formation of FC Olympia Oberschöneweide but only became 1. FC Union Berlin in 1966. It was in Bundesliga 2 for 11 years before beating Stuttgart in the Bundesliga relegation playoff to reach the top flight for the first time in 2020.
RasenBallsport Leipzig: This is where things get a little murky. RB Leipzig was founded in 2009 when Red Bull purchased fifth-tier SSV Markranstädt with the aim of getting the club into Bundesliga within eight years. The club is actually operated by a spin-off company called RasenBallsport Leipzig GmbH, hence not explicitly using the Red Bull branding like other clubs around the world. It achieved Red Bull’s ambition by gaining promotion to Bundesliga in 2017, then reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2020 and won its first major trophy when it won DFB Pokal in 2021. The city of Leipzig and its people were at the forefront of bringing down the post-war Communist government prior to reunification. So, while it’s a new “plastic” club – according to Eintracht Frankfurt board member Philip Renschke – that’s hated by many German fans, RB Leipzig has to be included in this challenge.
How will OstDeutscher Sieg work?
It wouldn’t be an overly fun challenge if we jumped straight into managing Union or Leipzig would it? So those two jobs are going to be viewed as the holy grail of our mission to win Bundesliga with an East German club.
Instead, we will begin the save with one of the four East German sides currently in 3. Liga – that’s Dynamo Dresden, Erzebirge Aue, Hallescher FC or FSV Zwickau. And the aim will be to initially avoid being relegated out of 3. Liga (if that’s even possible), then aim to get into Bundesliga 2 and, eventually, into Bundesliga. We can either do that by getting our team promoted through the leagues or by taking a job with one of the higher-ranked East German sides.
However, I’ve decided to make things a little more tricky by having to win every tier of German football. So before we can move up to Bundesliga 2, we have to win 3. Liga. And before we can move into Bundesliga, we have to win Bundesliga 2.
Furthermore, I’m going to introduce further stipulations into the save that will make the save more realistic and affect our ability to stroll to success. For example:
- We’re not allowed to use the Players In Range search page to find or sign players
- We’re not allowed to use Staff Search to hire staff members
- We have to use the new recruitment focuses to sign new players
- We’re not allowed to use prior knowledge of players to make new signings – so we have to rely on our scouts
So there you have it, OstDeutscher Sieg is up and running. But who will we choose as our first club? And who will be the protagonist of our new Football Manager adventure?
Join us tomorrow to discover where we end up on the first leg of OstDeutscher Sieg!!