Mention, Munich and football and most football fans will think of the European Champions, Bayern Munich. However, there is another team in Munich that has a great history and a large fanbase, that team is 1860 Munich. They have the nicknames of Die Löwen, which in English means The Lions and Sechzig, which means sixty.
The Wonderful 60’s
They currently play in the third tier of German football. Though, they have had success in their history both domestically and in Europe. In 1963, they won the Oberliga Süd, which gave them entry to the new professional league called the Bundesliga. It also means that they played in the Bundesliga before Bayern Munich, who did not join until two seasons later, as the German Football Association (GFB) did not want two teams from the same city in the league. The 60’s were a successful period for the Munich side as they won their second German Cup the DFB-Pokal in 1964 in front of 45,000 fans. In the 1965-66 European Cup Winners Cup, they managed to see off Union Luxemborg, Porto, Legia Warsaw and Torino to reach the final, where they played West Ham United in front of over 97,000 people at Wembley. They lost 2-0 to a West Ham side that included the likes of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.
In 1966, they continued their success by winning the Bundesliga. They scored 80 goals in their 34 league games, which was more than any other side and they only lost 4 games all season. They were runners up the following season, when they finished 2 points behind league winners Eintracht Braunschweig.
In the 1966-67 season they also played in the European Cup due to their league win the season before. They played Cypriot club Omonia in the first round, where they thrashed their opponents 8-0 at home in the first leg. 1860 Munich also won the second leg, with a closer score line of 2-1, which gave them a 10-1 aggregate win and set up a second-round tie with Real Madrid, who were the reigning European Champions at the time. The German side won 1-0 in the first leg at home in front of over 30,000 at the Grünwalder stadion. The second leg got off to a good start, with Brunnenmeier opening the scoring for the German side, however Real Madrid scored twice before half time to bring the tie level on aggregate. Real Madrid won the game with a single goal in the second half and that meant an exit for 1860 Munich.
Relegations and Promotions
In 1970, 1860 Munich were relegated from the Bundesliga to the Regionalliga Süd, where it took them seven years for them to be promoted back to the Bundesliga. In 1977, they finished second of the South 2. Bundesliga, which at the time was split into the North and South section. Arminia Bielefeld finished second of the North 2. Bundesliga, and 1860 Munich finished second of the South region, which set up a play off. The 1st leg was won 4-0 by Arminia Bielefeld and the second leg was astonishingly 4-0 as well, but to 1860 Munich, which set up a third leg, which was won by 1860 Munich. Sadly, 1860 Munich were relegated in the first season back after finishing 16th in the Bundesliga. In 1978-79 they managed to win the South 2. Bundesliga, which meant they were promoted to the Bundesliga. They were relegated in 1981, after finished one-point behind Arminia Bielefeld. The club were then denied a license and were made to play in the Tier III Oberliga Bayern.
They would not play in the Bundesliga until 1994, when they finished third in the 2. Bundesliga, which earnt them promotion. They managed to stay in the Bundesliga for 10 seasons, with notable players in that time period such as Olaf Bodden, winger Harald Cerny, Daniel Borimirov and Peter Nowak. Cerny has had the most appearances for 1860 Munich, then any other player. Former German international Thomas Häßler and Croatian Star Davor Šuker are also famous footballers, who played for 1860 Munich in the late 90s and early 2000s. The best finish in the 90s and 2000s Bundesliga period for 1860 Munich was in 2000, when they finished 4th, which meant they qualified for the third qualifying round of the Champions League, where they faced Leeds United. Leeds won 3-1 on aggregate, which meant 1860 Munich would play in the UEFA Cup. They played, now extinct Czech Republic team, 1. FK Drnovice in the first round, with a 1-0 aggregate win. That led to a second-round tie against Swedish team Halmstad, which 1860 Munich, won 5-4 on aggregate. The third round was against Italian side Parma, which the Italians won 4-2 on aggregate.
In 2001, the manager who had overseen the team since 1992, was sacked. Werner Lorant was sacked after a conflict with club President Wildmoser, which came to a head after the side had lost 5-1 in the derby against Bayern Munich.
Relegation and Financial Difficulties
Since, 2004, times have not been easy for the fans of 1860 Munich. They played thirteen seasons in the second tier, until 2017 where they were relegated, however because of financial issues they went down to the Regionalliga Bayern and not 3. Liga. In 2001, Wildmoser teamed up with fierce rivals Bayern Munich to build a new stadium, with an agreement that mean both clubs would be equal shareholders. The Allianz Arena opened in 2005, but with 1860 Munich now playing in the second division, the stadium was too big and expensive for them. Due to financial difficulties, 1860 Munich had to sell their stake in the stadium to Bayern Munich and then had to pay yearly rent to their rivals, to stay in the stadium.
The club announced in 2011, they needed €8 million to avoid bankruptcy, which led to 34-year-old Hasan Ismaik stepping in to save the club. The self-made millionaire did not have any experience in sports business, but with the club struggling, he became the first foreign investor in German football as he bought 60% of the club’s shares. The majority of 1860 Munich fans were not happy. In German football they have a 50+1 rule regarding ownership, which helps to protect clubs from external investors as the fans maintain most voting rights. A rule that should be considered in England with the current poor financial state of lots of clubs in the English football pyramid. To comply with the rule, 49% of Ismaik’s shares were eligible to vote to still comply with the 50+1 rule.
The Ismaik relationship with 1860 Munich was a strained one from the outset, he had disputes with club executives, club presidents. They just escaped relegation in 2015, when they scored a 94th minute winner in the relegation play offs and they just survived in 2016 as well, they finished two points above the relegation play off place. In the 2016-17 season, Ismaik appointed a new CEO and manager, and pledged to invest €50 million. The 1860 ultras believed all this to be lies and protested with a banner saying ‘Stop selling our club! Pro 50+1’.
The 2016-17 season did end poorly for the club, with them having to play a relegation play off. The first leg was 1-1 against Regensburg, the second leg was at the Allianz Arena, which was still hated by most 1860 Munich fans. Regensburg won 2-0, in a game that involved 1860 Munich tearing out seats and throwing them on the pitch, which meant the game had to be stopped momentarily with police getting involved.
It was revealed after the game, that Ismaik had tried to blackmail the hierarchy of 1860 Munich before the play offs. Ismaik had refused to pay the €10 million that was needed for a license from the German Football Association, Ismaik wanted the club to change their constitution so he could increase his power. Incredibly this meant that 1860 Munich would be relegated to the fourth tier meaning they had effectively been relegated twice in just a few days.
The Present Situation
In more positive news for the club, they won the Regionalliga Bayern in 2018, which meant they were promoted to the 3.Liga, they finished 12th in 2019 and in 2020 they finished 8th and now currently preparing for their third successive season in the 3.Liga. They had returned to the Grünwalder stadion in 2017, which has been their home stadium for most of their history. They have also announced the foundation of a women’s team that will join the German football pyramid. They will also play Eintracht Frankfurt if they manage to qualify to the DFB-Pokal.
They will play their first match of the season away to Meppen on the 13th September and personally, after learning about the history of the club and their recent financial struggles, which I feel empathy for after the financial struggles my club, Portsmouth have gone through, I hope 1860 Munich earn promotion to the 2. Bundesliga soon and return to the Bundesliga one day.
One thing to note is their incredible support. In the 2019/20 season they were in the 20 in Germany of average away attendance, with 1,985 fans. They had a higher average away attendance than six Bundesliga teams, that were Mainz, Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Paderborn, and RB Leipzig. This goes to show the size of the fan base, and they deserve to have a successful team.