FC Pinzgau Saalfelden is no ordinary Austrian regional league: The club unites US investors, fan partners from all over the world and the former German national player Christian Ziege. What’s behind it?
If you visit the official website of the Austrian regional league team FC Pinzgau Saalfelden, you will look in vain for German words. Information about the self-proclaimed “Mountainous Pine Blues” is only available there in English.
The board member Christian Herzog has been in Saalfelden for longer than the nickname Mountainous Pine Blues, he has been with the club since the club was founded in 2007. His English has recently improved, Herzog assures in an interview SPOX and goal with a light Salzburg dialect and admits: “You get to hear the local fans jokingly: ‘Friends, don’t forget that the official language here is German.'”
Here, this is Saalfelden: a small town with around 15,000 inhabitants in the Austrian state of Salzburg directly behind the German border. In the background rises the impressive Steinernes Meer mountain range, which attracts hikers in summer and skiers in winter.
Football, on the other hand, was a marginal phenomenon in Saalfelden for a long time. The city’s two traditional clubs never made it into the Bundesliga, in 2007 they merged to form FC Pinzgau Saalfelden before becoming the Mountainous Pine Blues almost two years ago. And it came like this:
Contacting American investors
The three American investors wanted to change that and already had a crazy idea ready: Take over the club and then hand it over to football fans around the world. At least a bit. Fans should be able to buy shares via a crowdfunding campaign and get exclusive insights on the one hand and a little bit of a say on the other hand.
“The longer the discussions lasted, the more the concept convinced us,” recalls Herzog. In summer 2019 the time had come: the contracts were signed, the three Americans made a basic investment of 250,000 euros and then organized the crowdfunding campaign under the motto “Fan Owned Club”. Since April 2020, every football fan in the world has been able to buy a piece of the club, now called Mountainous Pine Blues, for $ 500, and with more money, several pieces at the same time.
The crowdfunding platform says, “Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I own part of a European football club?’ Absolutely. You can be so cool. ” It is of course written there in English, after all, football fans from all over the world should feel addressed. As of now, around 400 people are so cool, so far they have invested a total of around 350,000 euros from the club’s point of view. Most of the partners come from the USA, but there are also English, Italian and Swiss people.
So far, nobody has come to Saalfelden in person, the annoying crowdfunding campaign began shortly after the start of the corona pandemic. As soon as possible, an annual fan meeting is planned in Saalfelden, until then only the Internet will have to be used for exchange. Every game is streamed live and at least once a month there is a video call between the club officials and the partners, of whom an average of 20 to 50 dial in.