Vienna (AFP) – Austria’s oldest football club First Vienna FC, started by British expats in 1894 but a shadow of its once-mighty self, has escaped bankruptcy after creditors agreed to a rescue plan.
“Austria’s oldest football club lives!” it said in a statement, calling the investors’ green light on Wednesday “a major step towards a future full of hope for our Vienna”.
The club, now in the mostly amateur third division, also said that Austrian insurance firm Uniqa has agreed to be its chief sponsor for the next three seasons.
“Now we can create something great,” said chief executive Gerhard Krisch. “Lots of people didn’t think we would make it.”
Known by its English name in testament to its roots, Vienna was once a major force in Austrian football, winning six league titles and the Third Reich cup in 1943.
Its Hohe Warte stadium, the biggest in Europe outside Britain when it opened in 1921, was also the home ground for Austria’s pre-war legendary national “Wunderteam”.
But since the club’s last league title in 1955 it has been on a slow and steady decline, slipping out of the Bundesliga definitively in 1992 and declaring insolvency in March.
Under Austrian Football Federation (OeFB) rules this means automatic relegation from the third division but Krisch said he hoped to secure a reprieve.