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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Jan Woitas
# Remarkable
Germany's most-hated club will be playing in next season's Champions League
RB Leipzig are assured of a top-four finish in the Bundesliga in their very first season in the top-flight.

RB LEIPZIG ARE not well liked in Germany.

The Bundesliga club have only been around since 2009 when drinks company Red Bull decided to pick up the playing licence of a fifth-tier side called SVV Markranstadt.

In a short space of time, there was a new stadium, a litany of new players and inevitable promotions. In 2015/2016, they spent more money than every other team in the second tier combined and finished as runners-up.

And their debut campaign in the top-flight has been very controversial.

One big point of irritation for German football fans is how Leipzig operate off the pitch.

In a country where supporters are crucial ingredients in the running of football clubs due to the 50+1 rule (allowing fans important voting rights and ensuring potential takeovers by multi-millionaire businessmen are virtually impossible), Leipzig charge an astronomical fee of 800 euro for membership (Bayern Munich’s is about 80 euro and Borussia Dortmund’s is closer to 60 euro).

So, that easily-attainable membership that German clubs pride themselves on and which allows deep supporter/club relations to grow isn’t so simple at Leipzig. In fact, the majority of the club’s 17 members have professional ties to Red Bull.

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But what’s sure to irritate German football fans even more is how well the club have done this term.

Saturday’s 4-0 win over Freiburg consolidated their second-place in the table and also confirmed their qualification to next season’s Champions League – a staggering development considering where they were just seven years ago.

It won’t do their reputation much good, not that they’ll care too much.

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