Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Four Cities You Probably Never Realised Had More Than One Professional Team


Many cities boast several major football clubs whilst others are famous for one club only. Some of these so called 'one club' cities, however, are actually home to more than one professional side. Here are some of those cities and their professional clubs that, living in the shadows of far bigger neighbours, you probably never realised existed.

Bruges

Behind Anderlecht, Club Brugge KV are the second most successful side in the history of Belgian football and when you think of football in the city of Bruges they are the one team that springs to mind. People, however, often forget that Club Brugge share their Jan Breydel Stadion home with another professional side - Cercle Brugge KSV.

This season, Cercle Brugge's average attendance of 4.697 (as of 29/12/19) is less than a fifth of their city rivals', and whereas Club Brugge have four Jupiler Pro League titles to their name since the turn of the millennium Cercle have not been champions since 1930. The club often tends to yo-yo between the top two divisions of Belgian football and whilst their bigger neighbours have competed in a total of 312 European matches, Cercle Brugge's whole European history consists of only four two-legged ties. If you were to produce one stat to show the gulf between the two sides then that last one would surely be it.

Cologne

Can you name a football team from Cologne? 1. FC Köln. And the others? Erm... You've got me! Okay, you may have heard of Fortuna Köln because you read the piece I wrote last year about the 1983 DFB-Pokal (cup) final between Fortuna and FC Köln. But if you didn't read my excellent feature, then unless your knowledge of German Cup finals in the 1980s is worthy of a specialist subject on Mastermind then you will probably not be aware of Fortuna Köln. You probably won't be aware of Viktoria Köln either. Neither come anywhere close to rivalling the city's big boys FC Köln who as well as being losing finalists in the UEFA Cup in 1986, have two Bundesliga crowns and four DFB Pokal titles to their name not to mention many runners up finishes in both. 

Then a second tier side, Fortuna Köln's heroic cup exploits in 1983 came to an end when their city rivals beat them in the final. The club have one lone Bundesliga season to their name and last season were relegated from the 3. Liga with fellow Cologne side Viktoria Köln replacing them in the third tier. Viktoria have never progressed beyond the 2. Bundesliga and have spent much of their history in the third tier and below. In 1963, however, Viktoria were chosen to represent Cologne in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and reached the semi-finals of the competition which was a forerunner to the modern day Europa League. For those who don't regularly replay matches from the 1963-64 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in their head, however, Viktoria, like Fortuna, are probably not widely known.

Eindhoven

Over the course of the last twenty years PSV Eindhoven have won ten Eredivisie titles, but whilst PSV are one of the biggest names in the top flight of Dutch football city rivals FC Eindhoven are most definitely not. Top flight champions in 1954 and Cup winners in 1937, FC Eindhoven have not won a single major honour aside from those two triumphs. Relegated from the Eredivisie in 1977 after a brief two season spell in the division, the club have spent every single one of the 43 years since plying their trade in the second tier Erste Divisie. FC Eindhoven's average attendance last season was 2.310, PSV Eindhoven's was 34.071 - no wonder FC Eindhoven go unnoticed outside of their own city.

Paris

Paris is considered rather unique in the fact that it is one of the few European capital cities to have only one major football club. That may be true, but there are also a couple of not so major professional clubs in the city that you have probably never heard of. Every football fan is surely well aware of Paris Saint-Germain, one of the biggest names in European football, but fellow professional sides in the city Paris FC and Red Star FC are, these days at least, little known to most.  

Formed in the 1960s, the original Paris FC merged with Stade Saint-Germain in 1970 to form the current day PSG team whilst two years later they returned when a separate Paris FC side was reformed. Currently playing in Ligue 2, the club spent much of their early years in Ligue 1 but have lived outside the top flight since 1979 playing at varying levels of the French league system as either a semi-professional or fully professional side.

Red Star FC, meanwhile, were established in 1897 by future FIFA president Jules Rimet who had the original World Cup trophy named after him. The club have 5 Coupe de France titles to their name and 34 Ligue 1 campaigns under their belt. Now largely forgotten, however, the last of those cup triumphs came in 1942 whilst Red Star have not featured in the top flight since 1975. The club have spent the years since in the lower divisions including a short spell in the sixth tier in the 2000s. Relegated from Ligue 2 last season the club are currently one of the few fully professional sides in the third tier Championnat National.

Although their professional days are long gone, fifth tier Racing Club de France are also worth a mention when talking about football in Paris. Like Red Star, the club also has five Coupe de France titles to their name and even better were once crowned Ligue 1 champions. That title, however, came way back in 1936 and their last cup triumph followed 13 years later. A rich benefactor in the 1980s did not see promised success materialise and the has struggled in the lower tiers ever since.

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