Union Berlin continues to rise amongst soccer in Germany at an unbelievable rate. Although the club has roots dating back to the early 20th century, the team was founded with their current name in 1966. Despite this ample history, Union Berlin did not reach the top flight until 2019.

Team officials hoped that their club would essentially just survive relegation. However, the Iron Ones, as they are affectionately known, managed to finish a very respectively 11th in the Bundesliga table for 2019/20. A season later the east Berlin team finished seventh, qualifying for the Europa Conference playoffs. Their ascension in the German league wouldn’t stop there.

Union Berlin qualified for the Europa League, finishing just one point out of a Champions League place in the 2021/22 campaign. The club is now just one point behind German giants Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title. So just how did this relatively new team join the likes of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund in German soccer? It’s certainly not a billionaire owner.

Union Berlin reaching unprecedented heights in Germany

The team is essentially the antithesis of modern soccer. While fans have seen clubs like Paris Saint-German, Chelsea, and Manchester City get to their positions by spending incredible amounts of money, this club hasn’t done that.

Union Berlin is 100% fan member owned. This means that there are no outside investors with the team. These fans previously helped raise money for the club during tough times by donating blood. They even helped rebuild the stadium themselves.

Despite making a dozen additions to the current squad, Union Berlin actually made more money in the transfer market than they spent this season. And the current campaign is not an outlier either. In fact, since the club gained promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019, they actually have earned about $2 million more than they have spent on players.

The atmosphere within the stadium is incredible, as well. Despite being the smallest stadium in the Bundesliga, Stadion An der Alten Forsterei has an incredible atmosphere on matchdays. The stadium itself is also positioned inside a forest. Fans walking to the game get a very unique experience. Inside the stadium, negativity and boos are rarely heard.

Bundesliga needs a new title holder

Union Berlin’s rise is surely a positive for the Bundesliga. Bayern’s recent domination has made league titles essentially a foregone conclusion in the last decade. However, most fans like competitive leagues to make things more interesting. And Union Berlin could be an astonishing story should they snatch the trophy away from Bayern this season.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Matthias Koch