(Reuters) - Former European champions Hamburg SV have invited fans to attend what could be their last Bundesliga training sessions for at least a year as they prepare to host Borussia Moenchengladbach in a game that may see them relegated from the German top flight for the first time.
Hamburg are the only team to have played every season in the Bundesliga since the league’s creation in 1963, a record not even champions Bayern Munich are able to claim as they were only promoted in 1965.
Even a victory on Saturday might not be enough to earn Hamburg a shot at keeping their Bundesliga place via a relegation playoff, with that spot currently occupied by VfL Wolfsburg.
The stadium clock, which has been ticking for more than 54 years to mark their Bundesliga record, will need to be reset if they fail to win on Saturday.
“Normally you are already gone at this stage. But we still have one more chance to reach the relegation playoff,” said coach Christian Titz.
“We are two points behind. But incredible things have happened in football. We still have real chances to win the home game in our own stadium and with the strength of our fans.”
Hamburg, in 17th place on 28 points, two behind Wolfsburg, need a win and for Wolfsburg to lose to already-relegated Cologne to jump into 16th place and secure a relegation/promotion playoff against the third team in the second division.
“Hamburg normally train on the last two days before a Bundesliga game behind closed doors,” the club said in a statement.
“But ahead of the big finale on Saturday against Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Christian Titz and his team are changing the process in order to be on the same page with the fans for our final.
“All Hamburg fans, including kids, are invited to give the team the last push and get them ready for this important match.”
Relegation would rob Hamburg of tens of millions of euros in Bundesliga revenues from tickets, broadcasting rights and merchandising, but they are in this very position because of money poorly spent.
In a Sueddeutsche Zeitung interview, billionaire Klaus-Michael Kuehne said that financially he was getting very little return for injecting cash into the club for years.
“From a financial perspective Hamburg are the worst investment decision of my life,” said, the club’s single biggest investor who has long been critical of the way they club has been run.
“But you never know at Hamburg. It’s not over yet.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford