‘This club doesn’t belong in first division’

‘This club doesn’t belong in first division’

NOS Football

FC Groningen on brink of first relegation in 25 years: ‘Fingers crossed, fingers crossed’

After 23 years, premier league soccer in the city and province of Groningen seems to be coming to an end. The local FC is experiencing a disaster season and with seven games to go is in seventeenth place. A position that leads to relegation to the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. The difference with place sixteen, which still obliges to play nacompetitie, is already seven points.

It seems a difficult task to close that gap, especially when you consider that four of the seven opponents Groningen still has to face are in the left row. Still, there are fans with hope, as evidenced by the optimistic letter that supporter Wiebe handed to Groningen coach Dennis van der Ree: “I have to help the boys.”

Groningen players balking after another defeat

The letter, which is in Van der Ree’s pocket during the press conference prior to the game with FC Utrecht, states, among other things, that the supporters are still behind the club despite the seemingly impossible task facing the team. But also that the players must fight during the denouement of the premier league. And that they must have faith in a good outcome.

But he also realizes that it is code red in Groningen: “Degradation is a disaster, this club does not belong in the first division. It is a big club that should play at least middle or higher in the premier league. For the people who put all the work into it and the supporters who are always there, away or at home, it would be a disaster.”

Dennis van der Ree

Only bright spot in the Groningers’ dark year is American striker Ricardo Pepi. Although it will not bring Groningen anything, as he is rented from FC Augsburg of Germany. But the performance of the 20-year-old striker is striking: with ten goals he is third on the top scorer list of the premier league.

Partly as a result, he joined the US last international period, even scoring against Grenada and El Salvador. In fourteen international matches, he has already scored six goals. He himself does have an explanation: “I am a very effective striker. I only need one chance for a goal. With one good pass from my fellow players, I can score.”

In any case, Pepi is Groningen’s hope in anxious days. Or as supporter Wiebe experiences the upcoming period, “Fingers crossed, fingers crossed.”

Kayleigh Williams