Bundesliga newcomers Berlin Union look to make a splash

Excitement among fans has never been more significant around newly promoted Union Berlin. Experts speak of a euphoric atmosphere and everyone working for the club is said to be humming with activity in Berlin’s southeast.

It is no bold guess that all of the side’s home games will be sold out as the East-Germans for the first time in the Bundesliga’s history joined Germany’s top flight.

The arrival of two experienced performers such as former Dortmund defender Neven Subotic and former Stuttgart captain Christian Gentner is spreading optimism despite the club’s underdog role.

To cross swords with the country’s leading forces such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund might not be the only highlights fans and players can’t wait for but the derbies against Hertha BSC and RB Leipzig, Union’s opponent in their curtain raiser on August 18.

“We will be a thick board to drill for everyone facing us on our home soil,” Union president Dirk Ziegler commented adding the entire club will enjoy the new adventure like a thrilling holiday trip.

Entertainment is guaranteed when the side, found in the former Germany Democratic Republic, will meet local rival Hertha “as derby’s against rivals in your town lift football to a new dimension.” Football is rivalry and delimitation, Ziegler emphasized.

Life in Berlin will gain new energy, Union’s president underlined while police fear riots as some fans regard the duel’s against parvenu Leipzig, owned by an energy-drink manufacturer and Hertha as a substantial class conflict. Many see Union as the only true counterexample to established clubs deliberately following football-capitalism’s rules while the “Eisernen” (the German word “eisern” covers staunch and firm) politically stand for the cultural heritage of football in the GDR.

“We are a club participating in competitive sports, we want to win games and be part of the highest league. That remains the DNA of Union like it was back in the GDR,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler is busy to ease fans concern that things might change after “we promoted to the Bundesliga. Nothing will change, and no event tourists will enter our arena. How should they? We have 24.000 members and 22.000 fill up our stadium.”

The Union president is much more confident “we will benefit from this narrowness, this closeness to the pitch and this compactness.” The arena called the “Alte Foersterei” (old forestry) is located in the middle of a small forest. Name-giver is a former forestry near the arena today hosting Union’s administrative offices.

“We have to enjoy what is ahead of us. There are many bad examples of clubs relegated right away. Therefore, it is our goal to stay in the Bundesliga and be happy to be part of something extraordinary,” the 54-year-old underlined.

Union coach Urs Fischer not only has to deal with a new quality of opponents but handle a massive squad of currently 34 professional which is said to be reduced to 27 to 28 after 14 new arrivals have joined in. Media reports speak of growing tensions in the squad as some of the fan’s heroes, responsible for the side’s biggest success, might have to leave.

Swiss coach Fischer called the 2019/2020 season a challenge. “The big difference of the budgets must have an effect, but we know team-spirit and solidarity in the group can do a lot,” Fischer commented.

Managing director Oliver Ruhnert promised to count on the team that has achieved the success mainly. Union’s fan community already said to keep a close eye on that and keep their critical attitude when it comes to commercialism.

Many supporters oppose the clubs main sponsor, a real estate company. Controversial debates in Berlin about the lack of affordable living space might have increased the fans mistrust.