End of history in Leipzig

JUST as Bill Hicks’ sadly abbreviated life was getting going came his realisation that what he was doing almost certainly wasn’t worth the effort. “Bear with me,” he’d say with a sigh. “While I plaster on a fake smile and plough through this shit one more time.”

Tell me about it. Four years after conceiving the most detestable side in the Austrian league, three from repeating the trick in America (plus the one in Brazil it’s easy to forget about) and two years after objections from fans and authorities thwarted attempts to buy Leipzig’s FC Sachsen, Red Bull has returned to the city eyeing more vulnerable prey on its impoverished football scene.

zentralstadionDieter Mateschitz’s latest attraction is a fatal one for the few hundred regulars at suburban fifth division outfit SSV Markranstädt,who he recently acquired with a fraction of the 100m euros he’s pledged to buy Bundesliga football “within 8 years” for the club’s new home, Leipzig’s 45,000 capacity Zentralstadion. The stadium, underused since its construction for five 2006 World Cup fixtures, will get the full Red Bull treatment but for its new tenant there lies in store the biggest contrivance the German game’s seen since Sylvester Stallone saved a last-minute penalty.

Prevented by German football law from owning and rebranding the club outright, a sleight of name will see SSV Markranstädt’s league place taken by Mateshitz’s “RB Leipzig”. That’s “RB” not for “Red Bull” you understand, but “Rasenball Leipzig”. In English? Grassball Leipzig.

Grassball? Riiight. Tell you what, Dieter. I don’t care if you shit Bundesliga titles out of your arse on cue. Just do me a favour: listen to Bill and leave the rest of us to get on with following our football, not fighting it.

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