Sitting in dire straits, Schalke is experiencing some of the toughest moments in its rich history since the club was founded in 1922. The team has been German champions seven times and spent only five seasons in the second division of German football until the 2021/22 season. Schalke’s decline began earlier, following its second-place finish in the Bundesliga in 2018, behind the dominant Bayern. Subsequent seasons saw Schalke finishing 14th and 12th, and then an unexpected 18th-place finish and relegation in 2021.
The following season, Schalke swiftly rose to the top of the second division and the average attendance at the stadium increased from 33,500 to over 61,000. However, this was not enough to avoid the unthinkable scenario of back-to-back relegation from the Bundesliga. Schalke finished 17th last season, which was not sufficient to qualify for the relegation play-offs and now faces a daunting task to avoid dropping to an even lower tier. If Schalke were to be relegated from the second division, it is reported that they would be unable to obtain a license for the third division.
As a result, all player and coaching staff contracts would be terminated, potentially leading to the team operating as an amateur side, competing in the fourth tier Regional League alongside semi-professional clubs. This grim prospect could freeze the hearts of every fan of the team. Schalke has a rich history, having been German champions seven times, most recently in 1958. The team has also won the Cup five times and achieved success in European competitions, claiming the UEFA Cup in 1997 and the Intertoto Cup in 2003 and 2004.
However, a new era began with the termination of the long-standing sponsorship deal with the renowned Russian company, Gazprom, following the conflict in Ukraine in February 2022. This change left Schalke without substantial funds, resulting in the sale of key players and leaving the club in a precarious financial situation, potentially facing formidable debts amounting to around 165 million euros, according to Bild. Schalke’s home games are held at the impressive Veltins-Arena, which has a capacity of over 61,000. The stadium, opened in 2001 with a construction cost of 192 million euros, is set to host matches for the European Championship.
The first game at the stadium will be the clash between Serbia and England on June 16, followed by Spain vs Italy four days later, and Portugal against one of the teams from the playoff for EURO qualification. Additionally, a round of 16 match will also take place at the Veltins-Arena.