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Will FC Twente be relegated eight years after topping Dutch football?

Thursday 15th March 2018

Eight years ago Steve McClaren led FC Twente to the Eredivisie title. Much has changed in the years since. The club appear on the verge of relegation which might just tip a club already struggling financially over the edge. 

PSV Eindhoven, Ajax, and Feyenoord have at different times dominated Dutch football. Throughout their history Twente have usually pushed towards European qualification. The club was formed in 1965 when Sportclub Enschede and Enschedese Boys merged. They didn't have much success in the early years. Then, in 1975, the Reds had an excellent run in the UEFA Cup, reaching the Final before losing to Borussia Monchengladbach. Two years later they picked up their first trophy, a KNVB Cup. 

The 1980s and 90s weren't great times for Twente although they did make some European appearances. The low point was 1983 when they were relegated. They bounced right back the next campaign. 

The 21st century began well. The Tukkers won their second KNVB Cup in 2001. A year later, however, the club went into financial meltdown. The parent company went bankrupt but the club just about managed to survive. 

In the summer of 2008, Twente appointed Steve McClaren, who was looking to rebuild his career after a dismal spell in charge of England. Certain managers and clubs just seem to fit. McClaren enjoyed the best two years of his career with Twente. In his first season he led them to second in the Eredivisie. His second season was more impressive. McClaren guided Twente to their first and only league title. 

McClaren moved on that summer but the club were still able to collect more silverware, winning another KNVB Cup in 2011. The success was short-lived. Twente hit upon more financial issues in the 2014/15 season. They were deducted three points in both March 2015 and April 2015. Forced to make severe cuts, 18 staff were fired, the scouting set up was abandoned, and Jong (young) Twente was withdrawn from the Dutch football pyramid. 

After the 2015/16 season the KNVB attempted to relegate Twente due to their financial problems. The club won an appeal and have remained in the Eredivisie. They now look to be at risk of losing their top-flight status on the field. In turn, that could kill the club. The team is their sole revenue source. 

Since financial issues hit for the second time in little over a decade there has been another period of asset stripping.  Key players in the first team are continually sold to raise funds. In the last three seasons the club has spent a grand total of €750,000 on players while bringing in transfer fees of just over €40 million. In 2014/15 the club spent €5.6 million but still recorded a €20 million profit. 

For now Twente is in 17th place, which would see them enter the relegation playoffs. They are only one point ahead of Roda JC who occupy the automatic relegation position. 

Most of the club's assets have now been liquidated. Without the youth team to develop players coming through, the future looks bleak. All the good work resulting in Twente Enschede becoming Dutch champions eight years ago has now been undone. 

Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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