FC St. Pauli is a great football club, doing everything different compared to the others. Since last year’s promotion to the Bundesliga, the traditional club is among Germany’s finest again. Their stadium along the Feldstrasse, located in Hamburg’s vibrant district of St. Pauli, is too small for the club’s current success. For instance it has no real business club or proper grandstand. A temporary extension made of shipping containers now functions as an alternative business club. Not that chique, but definitely inspiring. The speciality on the grandstand is, of course, ‘Currywurst’, and it’s exclusively delivered… by train. One can stay seated and just pick one out of a wagon-lit passing by.
FC St. Pauli is one of the only style clubs in Europe, which makes this football club a very interesting phenomenon. The club is not particularly related to a local or regional tribe or fan base, but popular among alternative left wing people in entire Germany — a group which is very present in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district. But even in Berlin one can find an official FC St. Pauli fan store, something that’s quite remarkable for a football club from Hamburg. Imagine AC Milan having a fan store in Rome, or Arsenal having one in Manchester.
Their strength is at the same time their weakness. The main problem is the not locally concentrated fan base which makes it hard to invite all supporters to the stadium. FC St. Pauli has gone through some very difficult times over the past years. Playing in the ‘Regional Liga’, St. Pauli went almost bankrupt. But the international community came to help. Within only six weeks 140,000 shirts with the text ‘Retter’ (‘rescuer’) on it were sold all over the world. In addition, some Reeperbahn prostitutes organized the action ‘Ficken für St. Pauli’. They announced to give the club a share of their income over a certain time. The result was the start of a successful funding campaign that attracted much extra money for the club. The campaign worked as a viral (not a STD in this case), attracting loads of men to the Reeperbahn in order to support their club. It’s good to see this club doing so well in the Bundesliga between all the rich and spending clubs with huge, chique stadiums.
Here I’d like to drop the question whether the FC St. Pauli model is interesting for a modern sports club. A football club doesn’t necessarily have to represent a local or regional feeling. While we’re still mainly focused on our locative background, new tribes based on culture and lifestyle emerge, and football clubs can be a representation of these new communities as well.