RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V.
Head Coach: Jesse Marsch
Owners: Red Bull GmbH (99%)
CEO: Oliver Mintzlaff
Captain: Marcel Sabitzer
Stadium: Red Bull Arena
Nicknames: Die Roten Bullen (The Red Bulls)
Rivals: FC Lokomotive Leipzig, BSG Chemie Leipzig
RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V., commonly known as RB Leipzig or informally as Red Bull Leipzig, is a German professional football club based in Leipzig, Saxony.
The club was founded in 2009 by the initiative of the company Red Bull GmbH, which purchased the playing rights of fifth-tier side SSV Markranstädt with the intent of advancing the new club to the top-flight Bundesliga within eight years.
The men’s professional football club is run by the spin-off organization RasenBallsport Leipzig GmbH. RB Leipzig plays its home matches at the Red Bull Arena.
In its inaugural season in 2009–10, RB Leipzig dominated the NOFV-Oberliga Süd (V) and was promoted as champions to the Regionalliga Nord (IV).
RB Leipzig won the 2012–13 Regionalliga Nordost season without a single defeat and was promoted to the 3. Liga (III), then finished the 2013–14 3. Liga season as runners-up and was promoted to the 2. Bundesliga (II) as the first team since the introduction of the 3. Liga to win promotion after only one season.
On 8 May 2016, RB Leipzig ensured promotion to the Bundesliga for the 2016–17 season with a 2–0 win over Karlsruher SC.
One year later, RB Leipzig captured a place in the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League by finishing as runners-up in the Bundesliga.
On 18 August 2020, the club made history by participating in their first Champions League semi-finals, losing against Paris Saint-Germain of France.
The club nickname is Die Roten Bullen (The Red Bulls) due to the energy drink company Red Bull being the sole investor of the club.
2006–2009: Failure in negotiations with various clubs and founding
Before investing in Leipzig, Red Bull GmbH, led by co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz, searched three and a half years for a suitable location for investment in German football.
Besides Leipzig, the company also considered a location in West Germany and explored cities such as Hamburg, Munich and Düsseldorf.
The company made its first attempt to enter the German football scene in 2006. On the advice of Franz Beckenbauer, a personal friend of Dietrich Mateschitz, the company decided to invest in Leipzig.
The local football club FC Sachsen Leipzig, successor to the former East German champions BSG Chemie Leipzig, had for years been in financial difficulties.
Red Bull GmbH drew up plans to invest up to 50 million euros in the club. The company planned a takeover, with a change of team colours and of the club name. Involved in the arrangements was film entrepreneur Michael Kölmel, sponsor of FC Sachsen Leipzig and owner of the Zentralstadion.
By 2006, FC Sachsen Leipzig played in the Oberliga, by then the fourth tier in the German football league system. Playing in the fourth tier, the club had to undergo the German Football Association (DFB) licensing procedure.
Red Bull GmbH and the club were close to a deal, but the plans were vetoed by the DFB, who rejected the proposed new club name “FC Red Bull Sachsen Leipzig” and feared too much influence from the company.
After months of fan protests against Red Bull involvement, which deteriorated into violence, the company officially abandoned the plans. Red Bull GmbH then turned to West Germany.
The company made contact with the Hamburg-based cult club FC St. Pauli, known for its left-leaning supporters, and met representatives of the club to discuss a sponsorship deal.
A short time before, supporters of FC St. Pauli had participated in protests against Red Bull’s takeover of SV Austria Salzburg. Once it became clear to the Hamburg side that the company had plans that went far beyond conventional sponsoring, it immediately ended the contact, and the question never even made it to the club management.
The company then made contact with TSV 1860 Munich. Negotiations began behind closed doors, but the club was not interested in an investment and ended the contact.
In 2007, Red Bull GmbH made plans to invest in Fortuna Düsseldorf, a traditional club with more than 100 years of history. The plans became public and it was revealed that the company wanted to acquire more than 50% of the shares.
Rumours also spread that the company wanted to rename the club “Red Bull Düsseldorf” or similar. The plans were immediately met with wild protests from club supporters.
As with FC Sachsen Leipzig, the plans also ran into legal difficulties: the statutes of the DFB did not allow to change a club name for advertising purposes or an external investor to obtain a majority of votes. Eventually, the plans were soundly rejected by club members. The company turned back to East Germany but was determined to have a team.
Leipzig was considered a most favourable place for investment. The potential for establishing a new club in Leipzig seemed huge. The city had a rich history in football, being the meeting place for the founding of the DFB and the home of the first German national football champions, VfB Leipzig.
During the GDR, local teams such as 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig and its rival, BSG Chemie Leipzig, played at the highest level of the East German football league system, even on the international level.
The current state of football was, however, poor. No team from the city had played in the Bundesliga since 1994, and no team had played in a professional league since 1998.
The two best teams would soon both play in the Oberliga, and local football was plagued by fan violence. The city was hungry for top-level football. Leipzig had a population of around 500,000.
The city thus had a considerable economic strength and fan potential. At the same time, there were no Bundesliga clubs within a wide area of the city, which further strengthened the possibility to attract sponsors and fans.
In Leipzig, exemplary infrastructure could also be found. The city had a large airport, motorway connections and most importantly – a large modern football stadium. The Zentralstadion was a former 2006 FIFA World Cup venue and the second-largest football stadium in the east of Germany, after the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
An investment in a club playing in one of the top divisions in Germany would have been a costly affair. From previous experiences, the company knew that the existing traditions of such a club would be a disadvantage.
It also knew that an investment in a club playing in one of the top divisions would meet legal difficulties. Such investment would thus be risky. Instead, the company found that a newly established club, designed for the company, would be the best option for an investment.
At the beginning of 2009, Red Bull GmbH contacted the Saxony Football Association (SFV), to find out about the procedure to establish a new club in Saxony. A newly established club would need teams and a playing right.
If it did not acquire a playing right from another club, it would have to start playing in the lowest tier league, the Kreisklasse. The company searched for a club playing in the Oberliga (since 2008 the fifth tier in the German football league system) and therefore no longer subject to the DFB licensing system.
By proposal from Michael Kölmel, the company found SSV Markranstädt, a small club from a village thirteen kilometres west of Leipzig. The club was positively inclined to entering a partnership with a global company.
Its chairman Holger Nussbaum wanted to secure the club’s long term finances and designed a plan to engage Red Bull GmbH. Holger Nussbaum presented his plan to Michael Kölmel, who saw his chance and decided to join.
Assisted by Michael Kölmel, Red Bull GmbH began negotiations with SSV Markranstädt. Only five weeks after the first contact, SSV Markranstädt had agreed to sell its playing right for the Oberliga to Red Bull GmbH. The cost has not been disclosed, but SSV Markranstädt is believed to have received compensation of 350,000 euros.
RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V. was founded on 19 May 2009. All seven founding members were either employees or agents of Red Bull GmbH.
Andreas Sadlo was elected chairman, and Joachim Krug was hired as sporting director. Andreas Sadlo was a well-known football player agent, working for the agency “Stars & Friends”.
In order to avoid future objections from the German Football Association (DFB), he resigned as a player agent, before taking the position of chairman. The statutes of the DFB would not allow a player agent to be involved in the operating affairs of a club.
Joachim Krug had earlier been employed as coach and manager by Rot Weiss Ahlen, which by that time was known as LR Ahlen and sponsored by cosmetics manufacturer LR International.
RB Leipzig became the fifth football commitment in the Red Bull sporting portfolio, following FC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, the New York Red Bulls in the United States, Red Bull Brasil in Brazil and Red Bull Ghana in Ghana.
In contrast to previous clubs, RB Leipzig did not bear the corporate name. The statutes of the DFB would not permit the corporate name to be included in the club name.
Instead, the club adopted the unusual name “RasenBallsport”, literally meaning “Lawn Ball Sports”. But through the use of the initials “RB”, which corresponds to the initials of the company, the corporate identity could still be recognized.
RB Leipzig began with a partnership with fifth division side SSV Markranstädt. The partnership meant that SSV Markranstädt would provide the initial core of RB Leipzig, as the basis for its leap into German football.
RB Leipzig acquired the playing right for the Oberliga, the top three men’s teams and a senior men’s team from SSV Markranstädt. The first team was completely taken over, with its training staff and its head coach Tino Vogel, the son of the former East German football legend Eberhard Vogel.
The transfer of the playing right for the Oberliga had to be approved by the North East German Football Association (NOFV). RB Leipzig would need at least four junior teams, including an A-junior team, to finally obtain the playing right.
SSV Markranstädt had retained its junior department and RB Leipzig lacked junior teams. Red Bull GmbH, therefore, approached FC Sachsen Leipzig. The club was again in financial difficulties and could no longer finance its youth department.
The NOFV approved the transfer of the playing right on 13 June 2009 and RB Leipzig was given one year to complete its number of junior teams.
The club then acquired four junior teams from FC Sachsen Leipzig. The acquisition was urged by the Saxony Football Association (SFV), in order to prevent the migration of talents.
RB Leipzig would play its inaugural season in the Oberliga at the Stadion am Bad in Markranstädt. The stadium held 5,000 seats and was the traditional home ground of SSV Markranstädt.
The plans were however that the first team would quickly move to the far larger Zentralstadion, hopefully in 2010, after an advance to the Regionalliga. The stadium was owned by Michael Kölmel.
He was known to Red Bull GmbH for years and had assisted the establishment of RB Leipzig as a negotiation partner. Michael Kölmel had previously also been involved in local football himself, as a sponsor of FC Sachsen Leipzig.
He was eager to find a strong tenant for the stadium, which last saw FC Sachsen Leipzig play in the Regionalliga behind closed doors. Negotiations between Red Bull GmbH and Michael Kölmel began directly at the club’s founding.
Red Bull GmbH reserved the naming right to the stadium in June 2009, meaning that the name could not be sold to anyone else.
On its founding, RB Leipzig aimed to play first division Bundesliga football within eight years. Following the model previously elaborated by Red Bull GmbH in Austria and the US, the club was set to emerge and quickly rise through the divisions.
It was predicted that Red Bull GmbH would invest 100 million euros in the club over a period of ten years, and Dietrich Mateschitz openly spoke of the possibility of winning the German championship in the long run. The last team from Leipzig to do so was VfB Leipzig in 1903.
2009–2016: Rise through the football tier
After some previously scheduled games had to be cancelled due to safety concerns, RB Leipzig played its first match on 10 July 2009, a friendly match against the Landesliga club SV Bannewitz.
The match was played at the Stadion am Bad in Markranstädt and ended with a 5–0 win for RB Leipzig. The club played its first competitive match on 31 July 2009, in the first round of Saxony Cup against VfK Blau–Weiß Leipzig.
After switching sides, RB Leipzig played as the home team and won the match 5–0. The club then played its first league match in an away match against FC Carl Zeiss Jena II on 8 August 2009. The match ended 1–1.
During the further course of the season, RB Leipzig suffered its first defeat on 13 September 2009, in a match against Budissa Bautzen. Despite minor setbacks, the club still managed to be crowned as Herbstmeister, standing at first place after the first half of the 2009–10 season.
The team came back even stronger for the second half of the season, having signed the experienced midfielder and 2. Bundesliga player Timo Rost from Energie Cottbus in January 2010. The team managed to secure first place in the 2009–10 NOFV–Oberliga Süd at the 25th matchday, thus earning promotion to the 2010–11 Regionalliga Nord.
The team finished the season with an impressive goal difference of +57, having suffered only two defeats. The playing right for the Regionalliga was issued by the DFB on 4 May 2010.
RB Leipzig targeted a place in the 2010–11 DFB–Pokal, which would have been won by winning the 2009–10 Saxony Cup. The team reached the quarterfinals in the Saxony Cup but was eliminated after a defeat against FSV Zwickau on 13 November 2009.
The incumbent chairman, Andreas Saldo, left the club in January 2010 and the position was assumed by the former Hamburger SV sporting director and incumbent sporting director for the common Red Bull football commitment Dietmar Beiersdorfer.
One day after the last match of the 2009–10 season, Beiersdorfer released head coach Tino Vogel, assistant coach Lars Weißenberger and sporting director Joachim Krug from their positions.
This action was done after Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz had announced a change in strategy. According to the new strategy, RB Leipzig was going to represent the key project in the football commitment of the company, in place of FC Red Bull Salzburg. Tomas Oral was announced as the new head coach on 18 June 2010.
The players Christian Mittenzwei, Sebastian Hauck, Stefan Schumann, Toni Jurascheck and Michael Lerchl did not receive new contracts for the following Regionalliga season, while players Frank Räbsch, Ronny Kujat and two other players ended their careers.
Before entry to the Regionalliga, there were two significant changes in the club. The club returned the second, third and fourth team to SSV Markranstädt. In order to replace the reserve team, the club adopted the first team of ESV Delitzsch as its reserve team and purchased its playing right for the Bezirksliga Leipzig. The first team moved from the Stadion am Bad in Markranstädt, to make the Zentralstadion in Leipzig its new home arena. The former 2006 FIFA World Cup venue was simultaneously renamed Red Bull Arena. The opening of the Red Bull Arena was celebrated on 24 July 2010 with a friendly match against the German vice-champions FC Schalke 04 in front of 21,566 spectators. The match ended with a 1–2 loss for RB Leipzig. The first team played its last game at the Stadion am Bad six days later on 30 July 2010, a friendly match against Hertha BSC, which ended with a 2–1 win for RB Leipzig.
The 2010–11 Regionalliga season started with a series of draws, the first one on 6 August 2010 against Türkiyemspor Berlin in front of 4,028 spectators at the Red Bull Arena. The first win came at the 4th matchday, in an away match against Holstein Kiel, which ended 1–2 for RB Leipzig. The first home win came immediately after, at the 5th matchday, in a match against 1. FC Magdeburg, which ended 2–1 for RB Leipzig. After a moderate start to the season, the club found itself chasing Chemnitzer FC, which was considered a possible candidate for promotion. At the end of the year, RB Leipzig confirmed its ambitions to gain promotion, by signing Brazilian midfielder Thiago Rockenbach. The club had signed forward Carsten Kammlott, considered a promising young talent, and the experienced Leipzig born defender Tim Sebastian, during the summer.
The club finished its first season in the Regionalliga in 4th place, thus missing out on promotion. However, under coach Tomas Oral, the club succeeded in winning the 2010–11 Saxony Cup after defeating Chemnitzer FC 1–0 in the final on 1 June 2011 in front of 13,958 spectators at the Red Bull Arena. By winning the 2010–11 Saxony Cup, the club won its first title in club history. It also qualified to participate in the 2011–12 DFB-Pokal. Because the club missed out on promotion during the second half of the 2010–11 season, Peter Pacult from Rapid Wien was announced as the new head coach for the 2011–12 season on 4 May 2011. Almost simultaneously, the club announced that sporting director Thomas Linke had been released from his position, having been employed for only 10 weeks, from February 2011. Various media suspected a connection between the signing of Pacult and the departure of Linke.
Also, several players left the team, among them Lars Müller, Sven Neuhaus, Thomas Kläsener and Nico Frommer, all participants in the previous Saxony Cup final. With Daniel Rosin, Timo Rost and Benjamin Bellot, only three players from the former Oberliga team remained in the team for the 2011–12 Regionalliga season, while the former international Ingo Hertzsch as a fourth of these players remained in the club. Hertzsch ended his professional career after the 2010–11 season, but went on to join the reserve team, RB Leipzig II, and the RB Leipzig business operation. On 29 July 2011, RB Leipzig made its debut in the DFB-Pokal, in front of 31,212 spectators at the Red Bull Arena. The team managed to knock Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg out of the first round of the cup, beating them 3–2 after a hat-trick by Daniel Frahn. The team was eliminated in the next round, defeated 0–1 by FC Augsburg. The 2011–12 Regionalliga season saw the largest win in club history, when RB Leipzig defeated SV Wilhelmshaven 8–2 on 19 February 2012. After a decisive 2–2 draw against VfL Wolfsburg II at the 33rd matchday, the club missed out on promotion for the second time in the Regionalliga, finishing the season in 3rd place.
The 2012–13 season in the reformed Regionalliga Nordost began with major personnel changes. Former Schalke 04 head coach Ralf Rangnick was introduced as the new sporting director. Coinciding with his arrival, he replaced head coach Peter Pacult with former SG Sonnenhof Großaspach coach Alexander Zorniger.
The season proved more successful than the previous two. The club won the Herbstmeister title with two matchdays left of the first half of the season, after defeating FSV Zwickau 1–0 away.
The team then went on to secure first place in the 2012–13 Regionalliga Nordost at the 18th matchday, after the second-placed club FC Carl Zeiss Jena lost a match against Berliner AK 07 on 7 May 2013 and, as a consequence, were no longer able to overtake RB.
The 2012–13 Saxony Cup was another success. The club reached the final for the second time in club history and, as in 2011, the opponent was Chemnitzer FC. The team won the final on 15 May 2013 by 4–2 in front of 16,864 spectators at the Red Bull Arena.
The crowd number set a new record for a Saxony Cup final, breaking the previous record from 2011. By winning the 2012–13 Saxony Cup, the club was also qualified to participate in the 2013–14 DFB-Pokal.
As the winner of the 2012–13 Regionallig Nordost, RB Leipzig won a place in the qualification for the 3. Liga. The club was drawn against Sportfreunde Lotte from the Regionalliga West.
RB Leipzig won the first leg on 29 May 2013 by 2–0. The match was played at the Red Bull Arena in front of 30,104 spectators, a crowd number which set a new record for matches in the 4th division.
The second leg was played on 2 June 2013 and ended 2–2 after two goals to RB Leipzig during extra time. The result meant that RB Leipzig had finally won promotion to the 3. Liga, after three seasons in the Regionalliga.
In the 2013–14 season, RB Leipzig made its first appearance in the 3. Liga in club history. The club signed Anthony Jung from FSV Frankfurt, Tobias Willers from Sportfreunde Lotte, Joshua Kimmich from the U19 team of VfB Stuttgart, André Luge from FSV Zwickau, Christos Papadimitriou from AEK Athens, Yussuf Poulsen from Lyngby BK and Denis Thomalla from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim during the summer.
RB Leipzig was eliminated by FC Augsburg in the first round of the 2013–14 DFB-Pokal on 2 August 2013 after losing 0–2 at the Red Bull Arena. The defeat brought an end to a year-long series without defeat in competitive matches.
The 2013–14 3. Liga had a more promising start. The team won its first match, against Hallescher FC away, by 1–0 on 19 July 2013 and kept an undefeated streak until 31 August 2013, when the team lost 1–2 to first placed team SV Wehen Wiesbaden away.
On 5 October 2013, RB Leipzig again met the first placed team. SV Wehen Wiesbaden had lost its first-place position to 1. FC Heidenheim only one week after its defeat of RB Leipzig. 1. FC Heidenheim would defend it until the end of the season.
RB Leipzig defeated 1. FC Heidenheim by 2–0 after a convincing performance at the Voith-Arena and climbed to third place.
During the winter break, players Christos Papadimitriou, Juri Judt, Carsten Kammlott and Bastian Schulz left the team. In return, the team was joined by Diego Demme from SC Paderborn 07, Federico Palacios Martínez from VfL Wolfsburg, Mikko Sumusalo from HJK Helsinki and Georg Teigl from FC Red Bull Salzburg.
After losing 1–2 away to MSV Duisburg on 1 February 2014, the team would not concede a single defeat for the rest of the season.
A thrilling duel with SV Darmstadt 98 appeared, with both teams fighting for the crucial second place. The two teams met at the 35th matchday, on 19 April 2014. RB Leipzig came out as the winner, defeating SV Darmstadt 98 by 1–0 in front of 39,147 spectators at the Red Bull Arena.
RB Leipzig secured second place and direct promotion to the 2. Bundesliga two weeks later, after defeating last placed team 1. FC Saarbrücken 5–1 in front of a nearly sold-out Red Bull Arena on 3 May 2014. The crowd of 42,713 spectators set a new club record.
By finishing the season in second place, RB Leipzig won a promotion to the 2. Bundesliga and became the first team since the introduction of the 3. Liga to win promotion to the 2. Bundesliga after only one season.
Following promotion to the 2. Bundesliga, the organization responsible for licensing was no longer the DFB, but instead the German Football League (DFL). The DFL announced its first decision in the licensing process on 22 April 2014.
RB Leipzig was to be given a license for the 2014–15 2. Bundesliga season, but only under certain conditions. Criticism mounted that the club lacked in participation, that club management was too concentrated in only a handful of people and that the club was not independent enough from Red Bull GmbH.
To ensure independence and improve participation, the DFL set up three requirements that the club had to meet in order to obtain a license for the 2014–15 2. Bundesliga season.
One of the requirements was to redesign the crest, as the crest too closely resembled the corporate logo of Red Bull GmbH. A second requirement was to change the composition of the club’s organizational bodies. A third requirement was to lower the membership fees and open up the association for new members. The German legal magazine Legal Tribune Online assessed all three requirements set up by the DFL as legally questionable.
RB Leipzig filed an appeal on 30 April 2014. Sporting director Ralf Rangnick appeared in media and expressed his willingness to reach a compromise with the DFL, saying that important is not what is written on the jersey, but what is inside.
The appeal was rejected in a second decision by the DFL on 8 May 2014. Red Bull GmbH owner Dietrich Mateschitz spoke out in media, openly criticizing the decision by the DFL. He described the requirements as a “decapitation request” and categorically rejected another season in the 3. Liga, ultimately threatening to end the project in Leipzig if the license was not given.
RB Leipzig filed a second appeal on 12 May 2014. The DFL licensing committee was set to make a decision on the second appeal on 15 May 2014, before making its final decision on 28 May 2014.
Sporting director Ralf Rangnick confirmed that the club was still in talks with the DFL and expressed optimism around the license. On 15 May 2014, a compromise was announced. The compromise meant that the club had to redesign its crest and ensure that club management was independent of Red Bull GmbH.
The club signed numerous players before the 2014–15 season, among them Rani Khedira from VfB Stuttgart, Lukas Klostermann from VfL Bochum, Marcel Sabitzer from FC Red Bull Salzburg, Terrence Boyd from Rapid Wien and Massimo Bruno from RSC Anderlecht. Several players also left the team.
Massimo Bruno and Marcel Sabitzer were immediately transferred on loan to FC Red Bull Salzburg. Fabian Bredlow was transferred on loan to FC Liefering, André Luge was transferred on loan to SV Elversberg and Thiago Rockenbach Silva joined Hertha BSC II as a free agent.
The club spent an estimated sum of approximately 12 million euros on new players during the summer of 2014. The sum was large enough to put the club in 8th place of all clubs in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, thus spending more than half of all clubs in the first division.
RB Leipzig played a series of friendly matches during the 2014–15 pre-season. On 18 July 2014, the team defeated Paris Saint-Germain 4–2 in front of 35,796 spectators and 150 accredited journalists at the Red Bull Arena.
The first goal was scored by Terrence Boyd, scoring his second goal in his second match for his new club. Terrence Boyd received the jersey of Zlatan Ibrahimović from Paris Saint-Germain after the match. On 26 July 2014, the team defeated Queens Park Rangers with 2–0 at the Stadion der Freundschaft in Gera. Both goals were scored by Yussuf Poulsen.
The 2014–15 2. Bundesliga season began with a 0–0 draw against VfR Aalen on 2 August 2014, followed up by a couple of wins and another draw. The first defeat in the league came on the 6th matchday, losing 1–2 against 1. FC Union Berlin at the Red Bull Arena on 21 September 2014.
After the 7th matchday, the club stood at second place in the league. RB Leipzig was drawn against SC Paderborn in the first round of the 2014–15 DFB-Pokal. The team won the match 2–1 in extra time at the Red Bull Arena on 16 August 2014.
In the second round, the club faced FC Erzgebirge Aue. The team won the match with 3–1 in extra time at the Red Bull Arena on 29 October 2015 and qualified for the Round of 16 for the first time in club history. RB Leipzig then released its own club magazine ‘Klub’ on 6 October 2014.
After a series of disappointing results, the club had dropped down to 7th place by the 13th matchday. On 23 November 2014, RB Leipzig defeated FC St. Pauli 4–1 in front of 38,660 spectators at the Red Bull Arena. Two goals were scored by Terrence Boyd and the club climbed to 5th place.
The success, however, was followed by a draw against SV Sandhausen. On 7 December 2014, the team met first placed team FC Ingolstadt. RB Leipzig lost 0–1, and the result meant that the club now stood at 8th place.
RB Leipzig strengthened the team during the winter break by signing Omer Damari from Austria Wien, Emil Forsberg from Malmö FF and players Rodnei and Yordy Reyna from FC Red Bull Salzburg.
The club spent an estimated sum of 10.7 million euros on new players during the winter break, a sum which covered almost all transfer expenditures during the period for the whole of 2. Bundesliga.
On 6 February 2015, the club lost 2–0 to Erzgebirge Aue. As a consequence, the club had now played four matches without a win and had lost contact with the top placed teams.
On the following Tuesday evening, the club summoned Alexander Zorninger to a meeting, and on Tuesday night, the club took the decision to part ways with him after the season. The decision had been taken by the club management in consultation with Red Bull GmbH owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
The next morning, Alexander Zorniger announced his own decision to leave immediately. The club received criticism for its decision. Under Alexander Zorniger, the club had risen from the Regionalliga to the 2. Bundesliga. The decision was considered merciless by some media.
Incumbent RB Leipzig U17 coach Achim Beierlorzer was announced as interim head coach for the rest of the season.
On 5 March 2015, RB Leipzig met VfL Wolfsburg in the third round of the 2014–15 DFB-Pokal. The club was eliminated after being defeated 2–0 at the Red Bull Arena. The match was attended by 43,348 spectators. It was the first time in club history that the stadium had been completely sold out.
The preferred candidate of sporting director Ralf Rangnick as new head coach from the summer was former Mainz 05 coach Thomas Tuchel, but the negotiations with Tuchel failed. Another candidate was Bayer Leverkusen junior coach Sascha Lewandowski, but he too declined the offer.
In May 2015, sporting director Ralf Rangnick was himself announced as new head coach from the summer, with Achim Beierlorzer as his assistant. Ralf Rangnick was planned to serve this double job for one season. RB Leipzig finished the 2014–15 2. Bundesliga season in fifth place.
Before the 2015–16 season, RB Leipzig invested further in strengthening the team, signing Davie Selke from Werder Bremen, Atınç Nukan from Beşiktaş, Marcel Halstenberg from FC St. Pauli and Willi Orban from 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Selke was signed for an estimated €8 million, Nukan for an estimated €5 million and Halstenberg for an estimated €3 million.
Meanwhile, Joshua Kimmich was sold to Bayern Munich and Rodnei left to join 1860 Munich as a free agent. RB Leipzig also made transfers with its unofficial sister club, FC Red Bull Salzburg. As several times in the past, three players were signed on free transfers. Among them was the Austrian national Stefan Ilsanker.
They were joined by Massimo Bruno and Marcel Sabitzer, returning to RB Leipzig from being on loan. These transfers provoked anger among the fans of FC Red Bull Salzburg.
For several years now, FC Red Bull Salzburg had transferred some of their best players to RB Leipzig. Fans of FC Red Bull Salzburg were heard singing chants against RB Leipzig during a game in the ÖFB-Cup in April 2015, after Austrian media had reported that Stefan Ilsanker could move to Leipzig during the summer.
The signing of Davie Selke was record-breaking, being the most expensive player ever signed in the history of the 2. Bundesliga. In total, the club spent a sum of approximately €18.6 million on new players during the summer of 2015, more than all other clubs in the 2. Bundesliga together.
During the pre-season 2015–16, RB Leipzig defeated Southampton 5–4 in Bischofshofen on 8 July 2015, and Rubin Kazan 1–0 in Leogang on 12 July 2015. The team then went on to defeat Hapoel Tel Aviv 3–0 at the Red Bull Arena on 18 July 2015.
The club was drawn against VfL Osnabrück in the first round of the 2015–16 DFB-Pokal. The match was played at the Osnatel-Arena in Osnabrück on 10 August 2015. After Osnabrück scored in the first minute, the home fans celebrated so violently that barriers and safety net partially collapsed and the match had to be interrupted.
The match was restarted and Osnabrück led the match into the second half. In the 71st minute, referee Martin Petesen was badly hit in the head by a lighter, thrown from the home stand. The lighter had been thrown after Peterson had tried to resolve an argument between Davie Selke and Osnabrück substitute Michael Hohnstedt, resulting from a controversial situation in the Osnabrück penalty area.
The match was again interrupted and later cancelled. RB Leipzig offered a replay, but the DFB decided the match to be counted as lost by Osnabrück 0–2. RB Leipzig later decided to waive 20,000 euros of the 50,500 euros VfL Osnabrück owed the club for its share of the revenues from the match. RB Leipzig also allowed the payment of the remaining 30,500 to be postponed until the next year.
In the midst of the European migrant crisis in 2015, both club, staff, players and fans of RB Leipzig showed support for refugees. In August 2015, RB Leipzig donated €50,000 to the City of Leipzig for its work with helping asylum seekers. The club also sold 60 containers from its training centre, including sanitary facilities, to the city, in order to serve as accommodation for asylum seekers.
The club had originally invested around €500,000 in the containers. Moreover, the club became patrons of the initiative “Willkommen im Fußball”, giving refugee children the opportunity to play football.
Staff and players of RB Leipzig collected and donated sporting equipment and private clothes to refugees. Also, sporting director and head coach Ralf Rangnick participated in the donation, with personal concern for the commitment, citing his own background as being a child to refugees.
His parents had met in a refugee camp at Glauchau, his father had fled from Königsberg and his mother from Breslau. By an initiative of fans, RB Leipzig invited refugees on free admission to watch its home match against SC Paderborn on 11 September 2015. 450 refugees attended the match, they were met and accompanied by 200 fans before the match.
RB Leipzig advanced to the second round of the DFB-Pokal, being eliminated after losing 3–0 to a strong playing SpVgg Unterhaching from the Regionalliga Bayern at the Alpenbauer Sportpark on 27 October 2015.
After defeating SV Sandhausen 2–1 away at the 13th matchday on 1 November 2015, RB Leipzig were sitting in first place in the league. The position was however quickly lost already at the next matchday, with the team being surpassed by SC Freiburg and FC St. Pauli.
Following a series of wins, the team recaptured the leading position on 13 December 2015. RB Leipzig made only a few transfers during the winter break, for a change. Defender Tim Sebastian, who had been in the team since 2010 and who had once served as captain, left to join SC Paderborn, and midfielder Zsolt Kalmár left to join FSV Frankfurt on loan.
RB Leipzig held the leading position in the league until the 27th matchday, when it was again lost to SC Freiburg, after the team suffered a 3–1 defeat away against 1.FC Nürnberg on 20 March 2016.
The team now stood at second place in the league, only three points ahead of 1. FC Nürnberg in third place. RB Leipzig then recorded two straight wins and expanded the distance to six points. But with only three matches left of the league season, the distance had shrunk to four points.
RB Leipzig finally secured second place in the league and direct promotion to the Bundesliga at the 33rd matchday, after defeating Karlsruher SC 2–0 in front of 42,559 spectators at the Red Bull Arena on 8 May 2016.
The promotion was celebrated together with 20,000 supporters at the Market Square in front of the Old Town Hall in central Leipzig on 16 May 2016. The team was received before the celebration by Leipzig Mayor Burkhard Jung.
At the end of the season, Ralf Rangnick was to resign as head coach, in order to be able to focus on his job as sporting director. German media had during the season speculated in several potential candidates for new head coach, including Markus Gisdol, Sandro Schwarz, Jocelyn Gourvennec, René Weiler, and most notably Markus Weinzierl.
On 6 May 2016, Ralph Hasenhüttl was announced as the new head coach. Ralph Hasenhüttl had successfully served as head coach of FC Ingolstadt 04 since October 2013, having brought the team from the bottom of the 2. Bundesliga to the Bundesliga, and also managed to defend the spot in top tier during the 2015–16 season.
2016–present: Bundesliga era
RB Leipzig remained undefeated in the first thirteen league matches of the 2016–17 season, breaking a record for the longest undefeated streak of a promoted team to the Bundesliga.[
The team finished the 11th matchday in first place and became the first team from the area of former East Germany to hold the leading position since the 1991–92 Bundesliga season, when Hansa Rostock stood at first place on 31 August 1991 and held the position for three matchdays, relinquishing it after a loss against FC Ingolstadt.
RB Leipzig became the first Bundesliga debutant, since the German reunification, to qualify for a European tournament, following a 4–0 win against SC Freiburg on 15 April 2017.
They also became the first team from the area of former East Germany to qualify for a European tournament, since 1. FC Union Berlin qualified for the 2001–02 UEFA Cup.
Subsequently, Leipzig managed to qualify for the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League after beating Hertha BSC 4–1 at the Olympiastadion on 6 May 2017, two days before the anniversary of the club’s promotion to Bundesliga.
The following season, Leipzig finished in 6th position and also reached the quarterfinals of the 2017–18 UEFA Europa League competition, after being transferred from the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League group stage, which was finished in 3rd position.
On 16 May 2018, Ralph Hasenhüttl resigned as head coach, after an extension of his contract was denied. Before the next season, Rangnick was announced as the new coach for one year, to be followed by Julian Nagelsmann by the beginning of the 2019–20 season.
RB Leipzig finished the 2018–19 Bundesliga season in 3rd position, with a total of 66 points. This ensured their qualification in the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League.
In addition, a win against Hamburger SV on 23 April 2019, RB Leipzig reached the DFB-Pokal final for the first time, where they faced Bayern Munich on 25 May. However, RB Leipzig were defeated by Bayern Munich 3–0.
On 1 June 2019, Rangnick announced his resignation as sporting director of RB Leipzig after seven years and moved to the Red Bull company as “Head of Sport and Development Soccer”. His successor as sporting director was Markus Krösche.
In the 2019–20 UEFA Champions League, RB Leipzig managed to win their group ahead of Lyon, Benfica and Zenit Saint Petersburg. After beating Tottenham Hotspur 4–0 on aggregate in the Round of 16, Leipzig then went on to record a 2–1 victory over Atlético Madrid in the quarter-finals thanks to the late goal of American midfielder Tyler Adams to reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time in its history.
However, RB Leipzig lost 3–0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the semifinals. Leipzig secured UEFA Champions League qualification once again for the 2021-22 season.