Hamburg prepare for relegation playoff

Hamburg SV are struggling with distractions ahead of first leg of their playoff battle against Greuther Fuerth for the last place in the 2014-2015 Bundesliga.

Despite not winning a point in their last five Bundesliga games, Hamburg reached the relegation playoff due to the relegated Eintracht Braunschweig and Nuernberg also losing vital games.

Following a miserable league season with three coaches, spirit healers, witch doctors, financial problems and uproar at the club, Hamburg have the chance to retain their record as the only club to have played in every Bundesliga season.

On Wednesday, Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz paid a visit to the Hamburg dressing room, which was described by HSV coach Mirko Slomka as "A fantastic gesture, which shows how relentless the support is. All of Hamburg carries us."

On Thursday, the local daily Hamburger Abendblatt changed its colour from green to blue and urged all fans to "wear blue" on the front page.

However, the preparation for the home leg against Greuther Fuerth on Thursday (with the second leg to be played on Sunday) has once again been overshadowed by distractions outside the club.

Hamburg left back Marcell Jansen was one of the four Germany players to not be invited to the Nationalmannschaft training camp next week.

While Bundestrainer Joachim Loew cited "fitness reasons" for the HSV player's exclusion, Jansen said that he is "disappointed" and that he "was not able to show himself."

"To call up 30 players and then discard some of them that soon is not understandable," Hamburg sporting director Oliver Kreuzer said in Bild, while kicker asked whether the player would be able to put his disappointment to one side and concentrate fully.

But Jansen is not the only reason for concern in recent days: midfield starlet Hakan Calhanoglou's agent openly flirted with a switch to league rivals Bayer Leverkusen, in spite of the 20-year-old's contract running until 2018.

"Hakan is an extraordinary first-class professional," Slomka told kicker. "It appears to not put a strain on him. I've talked to him, but only about his role against Fuerth, and not about what his agent nonsensically said."

Still, Hamburg could be forced to sell one of their few assets in the summer: Die Rothosen are one of two clubs in professional football still fighting for their playing licence for the next season, and, burdened with heavy debts, they need to show the German Football League an eight-digit euro sum to fulfil the requirement for the licence.

Billionaire Klaus-Michael Kuehne has already said that he will vouch for the club, but has tied his offer to a profound structural change at the club, which would convert parts of the currently fan-owned club into saleable stock to raise capital, and to divide the club's administrative body and its football operations.

Yet, should Hamburg get relegated, kicker reports that the offer from Kuehne might not be enough to guarantee professional football at the Imtech-Arena next season.