After 23 years, FC Groningen relegated from the premier league
Watch the summary of Go Ahead Eagles – FC Groningen
What had been coming for weeks has now happened. FC Groningen has been relegated from the premier league.
It turned out to be nothing more than a last convulsion of the Groningers, the quick opening goal by club leading scorer Ricardo Pepi on the visit to Go Ahead Eagles and with it the hope to postpone the inevitable scenario for a while. An eighth defeat in a row was still avoided in the end, but nevertheless the curtain fell after the 1-1.
“I have never experienced such dead silence,” goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh described the mood in the locker room. “When it’s final, something happens anyway that hurts extra.”
Watch the reactions of goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh and trainer Dennis van der Ree below:
No less than 23 consecutive seasons FC Groningen was active at the highest level. A period that started with Arjen Robben’s breakthrough in 2001. And five years later, Luis Suárez became the next talent to reach the world top.
FC Groningen grew into a sub-topper, the new Euroborg becoming an almost impregnable fortress at the time. The club’s first top prize followed in 2015, when the KNVB Cup was won.
But since last season, when Groningen finished twelfth, things have been considerably worse. This season the bomb burst just before the World Cup break after the dismissal of coach Frank Wormuth, who left the team just above the relegation line.
Then things went from bad to worse and in the winter, technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus was also fired. Even when the inexperienced interim coach Dennis van der Ree was assisted by Hans Westerhof, things did not improve in sporting terms.
Misbehavior by supporters gave the season another thick black edge. Jetro Willems was hit by a fan and the match against NEC was stopped after a linesman was hit by a cup of beer thrown from the crowd.
The remainder was finished in an empty Euroborg, where NEC foisted their seventh consecutive defeat on the former Pride of the North just before time.
Veldmate and Lukkien
While nobody at FC Groningen seemed to believe in a miracle anymore, behind the scenes they were working hard on a plan for the future. Master scout Henk Veldmate was brought back and with Dick Lukkien a new trainer has also already been found.
Director Wouter Gudde already has his sights set on the future:
Groningen director Gudde: ‘We will have to go back in one go next year’
With Willum Willumsson’s equalizer, a resilient Scandinavian striker that Groningen also had a few of in recent decades, the Groningen side’s fate has already been sealed after 31 of 34 games.
Indeed, only the home club claimed victory after that.