Oldenburg’s problem with league three: the promoted team who doesn’t know where they’re playing

Oldenburg’s problem with league three
The climber who doesn’t know where he’s playing

Osnabrück and Meppen instead of Jeddeloh II and Delmenhorst – for VfB Oldenburg, promotion to the third division means the revival of old rivalries. The club, which Rudi Assauer once nearly led to the Bundesliga, still has an urgent question to answer: in which stadium are we playing?

For three decades, the most famous pictures of Oldenburg football always featured a lot of celebrities. Rudi Assauer, for example, the legendary manager. Wolfgang Sidka, the 333-time Bundesliga professional. And Klaus Baumgart, part of the hit duo Klaus & Klaus. Together they almost led VfB Oldenburg to promotion to the Bundesliga in 1992 as head of sport, coach and vice-president. In the end, only one point was missing. In 2004 and 2008, the traditional club even fell into the fifth division.

This Pentecost weekend, when the 170,000-inhabitant city of Oldenburg returned to German professional football after 25 years, showed what masses this VfB still moves and what power it can still develop. 12,000 spectators in the sold-out Marschweg Stadium. A pitch storm after the final whistle. Two TV stations that broadcast all of this live: That was also the case on Saturday when VfB Oldenburg was promoted to the 3rd division.

“It means so much for the club. It hasn’t happened here for decades,” said captain Max Wegner after the 2-1 defeat against BFC Dynamo in the second playoff duel between the two regional league champions from the north and north-east. Oldenburg won the first leg in Berlin 2-0.

Osnabrück attracts more than Flensburg

“It was my fifth season at VfB Oldenburg. I experienced ups and downs during this time,” said defender Gazi Siala. “Emotionally speaking, this is the best season for me. This team isn’t a team at all, it’s just a top family that gets along really well.”

VfB was already the outsider in the promotion games against Berlin. But from a sporting point of view, that was nothing compared to what awaited him in the 3rd division. The long-missed games against VfL Osnabrück and SV Meppen are certainly more attractive derbies than playing against Atlas Delmenhorst or SSV Jeddeloh II. But games against Dynamo Dresden, 1860 Munich or Waldhof Mannheim are also a much greater challenge than the previous regional league program against Weiche Flensburg or Werder Bremen II.

“It’s a very, very big step,” Wolfgang Sidka told Deutschlandfunk about this rise. “We have requirements from the DFB that an up-and-coming club has to meet first. Clubs like Dynamo Dresden, which are established and have a large stadium, have an unbelievable advantage. Our budget is of course smaller than for such large traditional clubs.”

What about the stadium plans?

Former coach Sidka is now the president of VfB Oldenburg. In 2021, a documentary about the great times at the beginning of the 1990s was broadcast on NDR television. Sidka had a prominent say in it, and VfB was looking for a club boss at exactly that time. “The film was one of the triggers,” explained the 68-year-old when he returned to Oldenburg as President.

Sidka was driving the club’s professionalism back in 1990, and that’s exactly what’s needed again today. VfB’s biggest problem is the question of the stadium, because the Oldenburger Marschweg Stadium without floodlights and undersoil heating is not suitable for the third division according to the statutes of the German Football Association.

Sidka’s hope is that the municipal arena will be upgraded by the start of the new season and that a new stadium will then be built in the future. But the club needs the city for both. And for the right to start in the 3rd division, there is also an alternative venue that VfB has already specified in its license application, but only wants to make it public in the next few days. “I think Oldenburg will need a football stadium in the future,” said Sidka. The rise and the crowds of fans that this success moved are “again very strong proof”.

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