No coach, no new players, no points and no money: 1. FC Köln is going into 2024 without four. The end of the football year was rocky for the Bundesliga club.

Shortly after the confirmed separation from coach Steffen Baumgart at the end of the year, the International Court of Arbitration for Sports Cas also announced that the transfer ban contested by the Rhinelanders remained in place.

Baumgart’s exit was preceded by a sporting decline in the Bundesliga with the 0-2 defeat at 1. FC Union Berlin the previous Wednesday, which only did not end in last place because of the goal difference, which was three goals better than SV Darmstadt 98. The four problem areas of 1. FC Köln for the new year:

The trainer

Which coach is right for 1. FC Köln? Steffen Baumgart seemed to be the ideal choice: shirtless, football crazy, successful – an original and, thanks to his flat cap, a cult figure who enlivened the club and its entire environment. Regardless of the continued unbroken sympathy for the 51-year-old former striker, his time in Cologne ends on December 31st because the results were not right. Nevertheless, he leaves big shoes for his successor. Who will that be? The club did not give an answer on Thursday as to who will lead the team at the start of training after the Christmas break in January.

The sporting situation

A look at the table is alarming for 1. FC Köln. Only ten points from 16 games mean 17th place – five years after promotion, the second division is once again threatened. Cologne were last relegated from the Bundesliga in 2018. At that time, FC, as bottom of the table, only managed 22 points from 34 games. At the time, the result was even more devastating with only three points after 16 match days. There is also hope that 1. FSV Mainz 05, in 16th place, only has ten points and there are only six points up to 13th place.

The transfer ban

Nobody in the Rhineland region thought that the signing of a youth player could have a say in the fate of the professional team. Because the club brought the then 16-year-old Slovenian Jaka Cuber Potocnik to Cologne in 2022 in violation of the rules, according to his former club Olimpija Ljubljana and ultimately also FIFA, the world association has imposed a transfer ban on the Bundesliga club for two transfer periods. The International Court of Arbitration for Sport confirmed the penalty. This means: There are no new personnel in the fight to stay in the class. But selling is possible, and things could even get worse. Baumgart recently denounced a possible transfer of regular player Dejan Ljubicic.


1. FC Cologne is chronically cash-strapped. The word “restructuring case” was coined in 2022. At the most recent general meeting it was reported that the liabilities had been reduced from around 66 to 50.5 million euros thanks to the Conference League and the sale of players such as Anthony Modeste and Salih Öczan. However, the club is far from off the hook. “We have to consistently continue on this path to financial recovery. We are on the right track, but we are not there yet,” explained managing director Philipp Türoff. It is not known whether the club will also have to pay Baumgart a sum of X as a so-called golden handshake because his contract was actually dated until 2025, but it would put additional strain on the financial situation.