UPDATED FOR 2023-24 - AUGUST 2023
Founded: Feb 13, 1948
Club Members: 127,376
Nickname: Die Geißböcke
Coach: Steffen Baumgart
Captain: Florian Kainz
German Champions / Bundesliga: 3
Bundesliga.2 Champions: 4
Western German Cup: 2
Formed in 1948 following a merger, 1.FC Köln began life in the Oberliga West and it wasn't long before the new club began making its mark, becoming league champions in 1954 and only being denied the double by VfB Stuttgart who beat them in the DFB-Pokal final that same year. A hat-trick of Oberliga West titles followed, and after becoming national champions in 1962, Köln were touted alongside football royalty in Real Madrid as one of the favourites to win the 1962-63 European Cup. A disastrous 1-8 defeat away to Dundee in the first-round however soon put paid to those aspirations.
However, having already firmly established themselves as one of the top sides in Germany, they were invited to become one of the original group of clubs who formed the Bundesliga in 1963. They took to life in the new league straight away, becoming it's inaugural champions and making a proper go of things this time in the European Cup when, in the days before penalty shoot-outs, only the toss of a coin saw Köln exit the competition after three drawn games against Liverpool at the quarter-final stage.
After winning their first DFB-Pokal in 1968, the club made three losing final appearances before a 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin finally brought the cup back to Cologne in 1977. Throughout the 1970s, the club had gained momentum and they were league champions in 1978, before retaining the DFB-Pokal a few days later to become one of only four clubs to have won the double during the Bundesliga era. Another DFB-Pokal title followed in 1983 before Köln appeared in their first, and so far only, European final - going down 5-3 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the 1986 UEFA Cup Final. Second place Bundesliga finishes rounded out the 1980s before losing another DFB-Pokal final in 1991 to signal the end of a glorious 30 year period for the Die Geißböcke (The Billy Goats).
Dark clouds were now gathering and it's fair to say that the following 30 years haven't made as good reading for the Köln faithful. Relegation to Bundesliga.2 for the first time in 1998 began a period during which the club formed their reputation as one of Germany's 'elevator clubs' - bouncing between the top two divisions with maddening frequency. In 2002, their fans had to endure the longest goal drought in Bundesliga history which reached 1034 minutes (11-and-a-half matches) before they finally saw their team find the back of the net.
Money problems also beset the club, although a restructure at board level in 2012 stabilised the off-field picture and the club is now on a sound financial footing again. On the field, a surprise fifth-place Bundesliga finish in 2017 meant that Köln returned to European football for the first time since the days of Hennes IV (Köln's emblematic real-life billy goat, now in its eighth incarnation - no fabric and foam mascots here!). Not knowing when they'd next have the opportunity to follow their team into Europe, 20,000 of Köln's Red Army descended on the Emirates for their Europa League clash with Arsenal and the kick-off was delayed for over an hour amidst chaotic scenes. Life in the Bundesliga however, like that Europa League campaign, was short-lived and the men from the cathedral city were back in Bundesliga.2 in 2018, only to make a swift return a year later for yet another attempt at finally re-establishing themselves in Germany's top tier.
Video used with the kind permission of Stadiums From The Sky
- Drone Footage of Stadiums All Over The World
Ground Name: RheinEnergie Stadion
Architect: GMP Architekten
Year Opened: 2004
Capacity: 50,000 (8,175 standing)
Executive Boxes: 57
Executive Box Seats: 694
Media Seats: 100
Wheelchair Spaces: 150
Construction Costs: €126.6m
Undersoil Heating: Yes
Running Track: No
Floodlights: 1,500 lux
Playing Surface: Natural Grass
Pitch Size: 105m x 68m
Müngersdorfer Stadion (1948 - 2004)
Rhein Energie Stadion (2004 - )
The RheinEnergie Stadion stands on the site of Köln's old Müngersdorfer Stadion which when opened in 1923 was the largest sports ground in Germany before the Olympiastadion in Berlin was completed. It was quite unique at the time because although it still had the obligatory running track, rather than slavishly following the typical open concrete bowl design of the time, the stands were covered all the way around.
The first renovation of the ground was carried out ahead of the 1974 World Cup because the city of Cologne wanted to be invited to the party. Once their bid to be a host city had been approved they set about working on plans to replace the now out-dated Müngersdorfer Stadion. However escalating construction costs and an inability to bridge the estimated €70 million shortfall meant that the project was stopped in its tracks and Köln missed out on the tournament. Undeterred, the city still wanted their new stadium and after scaling back their ambitions to have an 80,000 seater arena, it finally opened with a capacity of 61,000 in 1975 - the occasion marked with a derby between 1.FC Koln and SC Fortuna Köln (which "Effzeh" won 1-0).
When it was announced that Germany had unexpectedly won the right to host the 2006 World Cup, the city were quick off the mark in order to avoid a repeat of the 1974 disappointment. Renovation started on the stadium right away and unlike previous configurations, this one was to have no track and field facilities in the design.
From the north, fans are axially directed through a cordon of lighting steles towards the stadium between two tree-lined avenues and the masonry colonnades of the Abel Buildings which date from the 1920s and today form part of the German Sports University campus.
With its rectangular outline and steel-framed stands close to the pitch, comparisons are easily made to 'proper' English football grounds. The four stands are all double tiered, fully covered and are only connected to each other via the lower tier which runs all the way around the ground. The upper tier corners are noted for the Perspex sheeting which acts as a windbreak and helps keep the atmosphere inside the stadium. Outside the ground, in each corner, four 60-metre high steel towers stand supporting the roof construction. Behind the Südtribüne, there's a statue of Heinz 'Flocke ' Flohe - captain of the legendary double-winning team of 1978.
The Köln home end is the Südtribüne lower tier (Blocks S1-S6) and part of the Nordtribune (Blocks N11-N14). The away support make their voices heard from the Osttribüne (Blocks O11 and O12) and the Nordtribüne (Blocks N6, N15, and N16).
2022-2023: 49,765 (Bundesliga)
2021-2022: 31,965 (Bundesliga) *
2020-2021: N/A *
2019-2020: 35,094 (Bundesliga) *
2018-2019: 49,547 (Bundesliga.2)
* Season affected by COVID pandemic
Expected Ticket Availability
Despite Köln being in the middle of what must seem to their fans like a perpetual yo-yo period, hope springs eternal here and the club remain a big draw. Matches against Ruhrpott giants Borussia Dortmund, the visit of Bayern and of course the Rhineland Derbies against Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen will all be difficult to get to if you're not a season ticket holder or club member.
Apart from these marquee matches though, tickets should be available if you dip in quickly when they go on sale. Köln's online ticket shop provides information in English, or give the helpful staff a ring and explain that you're after a ticket.
Given the expected demand, it's unlikely that you'll be able to treat a match at the Rhein Energie Stadion as a traditional 'walk-up' but if that's what you've done, head in hope rather than expectation to the ticket booths at the entrances to the ground which open two and a half hours before kick-off. Adult prices range from €36-68 for seats and it's a flat-rate €17 to stand on the Südtribüne lower tier (Blocks S1-S6).
Information about visiting the RheinEnergie Stadion for fans with disabilities can be found at:
Like many big clubs, Köln offer ticket holders the opportunity to return their tickets if they can't make it to a match, and a few seasons ago set up their Spieltagbörse. This is really useful if you've been slow off the mark and you've arrived at the ground ticketless with time ticking down to kick-off. Basically, anyone with a spare 'paper' ticket (i.e. not Print@Home or Mobile) can offer it up for resale at face value through the club. Schemes like this are designed in part to combat touting and it's been pretty successful with German grounds now largely free of touts hawking tickets at jacked-up prices. Therefore, re-sale tickets might be available at their original price from Ticket Office 25 in the southwest corner of the stadium. Again though, head in hope rather than expectation.
GETTING THERE & AWAY
Aachener Straße 999
If you decide to drive, come off the A1 autobahn and exit at either Köln-Bocklemünd, Köln-Lövenich or Köln Weiden/Frechen. From there just follow the 'Stadion' signs and when you arrive you'll find about 7,500 parking spaces waiting for you although you should be prepared for the usual matchday traffic chaos around the ground.
The stadium has its own stop - conveniently named 'RheinEnergieSTADION' for out-of-towners, and to get there make your way to Neumarkt and hop on the KVB Line 1 tram (Direction: Weiden) for the 15-minute journey. You can also catch this tram at Weiden West which can be reached on S12 or S13 from Cologne Hauptbahnhof; or Cologne/Bonn Airport if you're flying in for the match and have every faith in the plane/public transport schedules to get you there on time. Special matchday tram services also connect Neumarkt and the Hauptbahnhof with the stadium.
With a match ticket (inc Mobile Tickets) you can ride around on trains, buses and trams within the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg (VRS) transport network from four hours before kick-off until 3am the following morning.
The ground is about four miles from central Cologne and according to Google Maps it will take you nearly an hour and a half to walk there. Use the time to enjoy a few Kölsch in central Cologne and hop on a tram to the ground instead.
FAN SHOP, MUSEUM & STADIUM TOURS
Fan Shop at the RheinEnergie Stadion (Nordtribüne, Aachener Straße 999, 50933 Cologne. 10am-6pm, Mon-Fri; 10am-2pm on non-matchday Saturdays)
Fan Shop am Geißbockheim (Franz-Kremer-Allee 1-3, 50937 Köln-Sülz)
Inner City (4th floor of C&A, Schildergasse 60-68, 50667 Cologne)
Hauptbahnhof (B-Passage, Trankgasse 11, 50667 Cologne)
Fan Shop in the Rhein-Center Köln-Weiden (2nd Floor, Aachener Strasse 1253, 50858 Cologne)
Fan Shop in the Köln Arcaden (Kalker Hauptstraße 55, 51103 Cologne)
Information about fan shop opening hours can be found here.
Go behind the scenes at the stadium with a whole range of 75-90 minute tours. You can tour the stadium at night, during the day, with former players, with a former referee or 'follow in the footsteps' of Lucas Podolski. If you're part of a Bachelor Party then they've even got a tour for you. The tours are dependent on demand though so the best advice is to head to Köln's website for info about schedules, prices etc here.
Alternatively, give yourself motion sickness by going on a virtual tour of the stadium here.
FOOD & DRINK OPTIONS
With the city centre within easy reach, many fans head there for pre-match pub grub and beer before making their way out to the ground. One of our favourite thirst parlours in Cologne is the grand Gaffel am Dom (Bahnhofsvorplatz 1, 50667 Köln; 11am-12am, Mon-Thu & Sun; 11am -1am, Fri-Sat ) - a micro brewery and restaurant in the shadow of the iconic Kölner Dom. Like all traditional Cologne beer halls and pubs, constantly prowling waiters will keep you topped up with Kölsch until you indicate that you've had your fill by putting a beer mat on top of your glass.
For live football on big screens, and some food if beer sharpens your appetite, call in at the Jameson Distillery Pub (Friesenstraße 30-40, 50760, Köln), Joe Champs (Hohenzollernring 1-3, 50672 Köln) or Lotta (Kartäuserwall 12, 50678 Köln).
The RheinEnergie Stadion itself is set in parkland miles from the city centre, options at the ground itself for a pre-match bite are limited to the fast food kiosks that fill the gap in the market on matchdays and do a roaring trade in frikedellen, chips, bratwurst etc. If you're after something a bit more refined than currywurst however, then head over to Aachener Straße where it meets Alter Militärring. It's about a 10-minute walk away (or just hop off the tram one stop earlier at Alter Militärring if you're coming from the city) and here you'll find bars and restaurants on all but one of the junction corners and there's plenty more drinking dens in the surrounding streets. We can recommend Stadwaldgarten (Aachener Straße / Alter Militärring junction) or Gaffel im Marienbild (Aachener Straße 561) which are also good places to head to for a post-match drink whilst the crowds thin out.
A bit further (in fact ... a lot further) out, you could also combine the need for pre-match food and drink at Geißbockeim - a bar and restaurant at the club's training ground about three miles away (12pm-9pm, Mon-Sun; Franz-Kremer-Allee 1-3, 50937 Cologne; email@example.com; +49 (0) 221 99599580 ).
Inside the stadium, the usual fast food options are on the menu boards but since the 2021-22 season, all payment within the stadium is contactless only (credit card, Girocard or using the FC App) - no cash ! See here for more information.
OTHER CLUBS IN THE AREA
BUNDESLIGA: Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach, VfL Bochum
BUNDESLIGA 2: FC Schalke 04, Fortuna Düsseldorf, SC Paderborn 07
3.LIGA: Borussia Dortmund II, DSC Arminia Bielefeld, FC Viktoria Köln, MSV Duisburg, Rot Weiss Essen, SC Verl