BERLIN: Hamburg, one of Germany’s great old clubs, risk being kicked out of the professional game if they cannot resolve a debts crisis writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The former European champions are struggling on and off the pitch: Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Hannover left them 16th in the Bundesliga and in danger of relegation for the first time in the 50-year history of professional league football in Germany.

Hamburg’s debts are estimated at more than €100m and German league president Reinhard Rauball said that a decision about the club’s future depended on the outcome of a refinancing plan.

Rauball said: “The decision on HSV has not yet finally been taken in the DFL. If the refinancing of the professional section is approved by a general meeting then, obviously, things would look better economically.

“If the vote us against then HSV would have to look at other ways to meet the DFL requirements and reduce their debts. Player sales would probably be necessary, just as once happened with Borussia Dortmund.

“We were on the verge of bankruptcy so we had to bring young players into the team and laid a good foundation for the future. This could be necessary for HSV.”

Hamburg have submitted licence renewal applications for next season for both the Bundesliga and for the second division.

Founded in 1919, Hamburg were synonymous for years with centre-forward Uwe Seeler who captained West Germany to the 1966 World Cup Final and was later club president. They won the Champions Cup in 1983 when a team coached by Ernst Happel defeated Juventus 1-0 in Athens with a goal from playmaker Felix Magath. Hamburg have won the German championship on six occasions, the cup three times and the league cup twice.