As if today couldn’t get even more bonkers, Borussia Dortmund’s arch-rivals and historic enemies Schalke 04 have officially been relegated, following their 1-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld. While this has felt like an inevitability for months, Schalke did technically have a mathematical chance at survival prior to today, but that chance is now gone. Schalke sit a full thirteen points behind FC Köln, and 15 points behind Mainz in the final safety spot. With only four games remaining, it’s impossible for Schalke to make up the difference.
Schalke’s undoing has been the result of year after year of poor asset management, scouting, and financial decisions. Years of letting players like Leon Goretzka, Alexander Nübel, Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg, Leroy Sané, Joel Matip, Max Meyer, Breel Embolo, and more leave on free transfers or for pitiful transfer fees have finally taken their toll. The COVID-19 pandemic hit at a bad time for Schalke, who were in high levels of debt already. With Schalke’s finances in tatters, it could be a long time before they return to Germany’s top flight.
Personally, I take no joy in Schalke’s demise. I don’t hate Schalke. Really, I don’t. I feel like in order to truly appreciate a local rivalry, you really have to grow up in the area where it takes place. You need to have friends who root for the other team that you trade jabs with, and you need to see the opposing team’s banners hanging from local restaurants. Having been raised as a New York Mets fan in the New York area, for example, I have a certain contempt for the New York Yankees that I could never possibly match with Schalke, because I just don’t have that same emotional connection to the rivalry.
So in some sense, I’m actually going to miss Schalke. The Revierderby has been one of my favorite matches to cover every year, and a lot of the everyday people who work for Schalke’s facilities could lose their jobs due to decreased revenue from the club. We now won’t have any Revierderbies in the Bundesliga for at least 16 or so months, although there’s always the possibility that the two clubs meet in the DFB-Pokal.
Are you happy to see Schalke get relegated, or will you miss playing them every year? Let me know your thoughts below.