Fussball-Club Luzern (German pronunciation: [ɛf ˈt͡seː luˈtsɛrn]), or simply abbreviated to FCL, is a Swiss sports club based in Lucerne (German: Luzern). It is best known for its professional football team, which plays in the Super League, the top tier of the Swiss football league system, and has won the national title once and the national cup three times.[1][2]

FC Luzern
Full nameFussball-Club Luzern
Nickname(s)Die Leuchten (The Lights)
Founded12 August 1901; 122 years ago
GroundSwissporarena, Lucerne
PresidentStefan Wolf
Head coachMario Frick
LeagueSwiss Super League
2022–23Swiss Super League, 4th of 10
WebsiteClub website
Current season

The club colours are blue and white, derived from the City of Lucerne and Canton of Lucerne coats of arms. The club plays its home games at Swissporarena which was newly built in 2011 at the place of the old Stadion Allmend.[3]

FC Luzern was founded in 1901. It has non-professional departments for women's football, volleyball, boccia and gymnastics.[4]

History edit

Chart of FC Luzern table positions in the Swiss football league system

FC Luzern's greatest success was winning the Swiss Championship in 1989. The club has also won the Swiss Cup three times (1960, 1992, 2021) and finished runners-up four times (1997, 2005, 2007, 2012).

With a total of 17 "moves", FC Luzern has the highest number of promotions and relegations to and from the national first tier since the establishment of a single nationwide top division in 1933.[5]

Promotions Relegations
9x (1936, 1953, 1958, 1967, 1970, 1974, 1979, 1993, 2006) 8x (1944, 1955, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1975, 1992, 2003)

The club's birth edit

The first known attempt to found a football club in Luzern dates back to 6 May 1867 when an announcement was published in the newspaper Luzerner Tagblatt advertising a meeting regarding the foundation of "FC Luzern" and invited "additional members". Even though the call did not have great resonance, this loose group of football friends can be described as a forerunner to FC Luzern.[6]

In 1901, a second attempt was initiated by friends Adolf Coulin, Ernst Haag and Hans Walter, who knew football from the Romandie, where the game was already very popular. They met on 8 July 1901 with other football enthusiasts at Floragarten – a restaurant at Seidenhofstrasse near the train station – to arrange the establishment of FC Luzern. Only four days later on 12 July 1901, the first training was held at Allmend, a large green space south of the city centre that would later become the club's home. The official foundation took place on 12 August 1901.[7]

The first match was held on 13 April 1902 away against SC Zofingen. In the 1–2 defeat, Albrik Lüthy became the first ever goal scorer for the club. The first match played on home ground was on 25 May 1902 with Zofingen as the opponent again. It ended with a 4–0 victory for the away side.[8]

Slow start (1903–1918) edit

On 13 September 1903, FC Luzern became an official member of the Swiss Football Association (SFA). At the time, clubs were allowed to freely choose the division to play in and the club decided to compete in the third tier Serie C. Despite winning only one match in its first season, the club chose to start in the Serie B for the 1904–05 season. After finishing second for three consecutive years from 1906 until 1909, Luzern was incorporated into the Serie A by the SFA in 1909. However, the task proved to be too big for the side, and Luzern finished the season at the bottom of the league table.[9]

Under new management, things turned to the better. For the first time, international matches were held, the first against Unione Sportiva Milanense in 1911, a 2–3 loss in Chiasso. In the second international encounter, Luzern drew 1–1 against Mulhouse, then won their first international match 4–2 over SV Stuttgart in 1912.[10] After disappointing performances in the domestic league, Luzern finished bottom of the table in 1912 and 1913 and lost its right to play in the Serie A.[11]

Luzern also struggled in Serie B and was threatened to become the second club in the city. Between 1913 and 1915, Luzern was defeated five times by city rival FC Kickers. For a time, even a merger with 1907 founded Kickers was a realistic scenario, but the merger was rejected by only one vote.[12]

Almost champion and back to Serie B (1918–1936) edit

After five years in the second division Luzern returned to Serie A in 1918 after beating FC Baden. Dionys Schönecker, who joined FC Luzern from Austrian club Rapid Wien, became the first professional manager for the club in 1921. His appointment was an instant success as Luzern went on to win the central Swiss group of the Serie A and qualified for the final round of the championship. After defeating eastern Swiss champions Blue Stars Zürich 2–1, Luzern faced Servette Geneva in a title decider on 25 June 1922 in Basel. The hotly favoured and experienced Genevans won 2–0, even though the match could not be played to the end after Servette fans stormed the pitch due to a false signal by the referee. The followers could not be persuaded to leave the pitch and the Luzern side agreed to end the match to avoid further incidents.[13]

Luzern fell back into old patterns and only narrowly escaped relegation in the two subsequent seasons, but was unable to avoid relegation in 1925. From 1925 to 1930, the club played in the second division and was often close to promotion. Within the SFA, the late 1920s and early 1930s were marked by failed attempts for league reform and chaotic association meetings. After formally securing promotion with its third consecutive second division title in 1929, Luzern was barred from participating in the national first tier until the spring of 1931. However, in 1931, a drastic reduction of clubs in the top division was implemented, meaning forced relegation for no less than 15 clubs, including Luzern.[14]

Barren years (1936–1959) edit

A change in fortune saw Luzern promoted to the newly created Nationalliga in 1936. Despite sanctions by the SFA, the club managed to finish the 1936–37 season fourth, the side's best final league position until 1976. In the following years (which were heavily affected by World War II), FCL was not able to build on this success. Managers came and went but the club never ranked higher than the bottom four. When acclaimed international Sirio Vernati left Luzern in 1943, the team was deprived of its best player and was relegated in the spring of 1944.[15]

In the 1940s, Luzern became a typical second division club. In 1952–53, Luzern again had a bad start to the campaign, but improved significantly as the season progressed. Promotion could be secured in the final match against local rival SC Zug.

The boom only lasted for two years and Luzern was relegated again in 1955. The club board appointed young German manager Rudi Gutendorf, whose managerial career would later span the entire planet. While Gutendorf saw the first years as a consolidation period, the team almost got instantly promoted after just one year in the second division. Promotion eventually came in 1958.[16]

The first trophy and the yo-yo years (1960–1979) edit

While league performances in the Nationalliga A were erratic throughout the first half of the 1960s, Luzern won its first major national trophy by winning the Swiss Cup in 1960. The final was played against FC Grenchen. Luzern then participated in the first edition of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1960–61, but was comfortably defeated by Fiorentina (0–3, 2–6).[17]

The success did not last long and the chronically poor financial situation and average league performances led to many managerial changes. The club was relegated once again in 1966, and Luzern developed a reputation as a "yo-yo team". Promotion in 1967 was followed by relegation in 1969, promotion in 1970, relegation in 1972, promotion in 1974, once again relegation in 1975 and finally promotion in 1979. Eleven different managers stood at the sideline during this time, among them the 1960 cup winner, local legend and later manager of the Switzerland national team, Paul Wolfisberg. His second managerial spell from 1978 to 1982 marked the beginning of one of the most successful periods in the club's history.[18][19]

The golden years (1980–1992) edit

Luzern signed Ottmar Hitzfeld in the summer of 1980. (It was Hitzfeld's last station as a player before he started his successful managerial career in 1983.) With several mid-table finishes throughout the early 1980s, the club consolidated its position in the league. Friedel Rausch took over as a manager in 1985 and guided Luzern to their most successful era. In 1986, the club finished third and qualified for the UEFA Cup for the first time in club history. After a remarkable 0–0 away draw against Spartak Moscow, the home leg was lost 0–1 through a late winner for the Soviet side.[20]

With a fifth-place finish in 1987 and 1988, Luzern, being widely viewed as an underdog team, sensationally won the Swiss championship in 1989. It is the single biggest success in the club's history to date. Luzern clinched the title race with a 1–0 home win against Servette in front of 24,000 fans. The deciding goal was scored by German striker Jürgen Mohr.[21]

The league triumph entitled Luzern to participate in the European Cup, the club's first (and so far only) appearance in this competition. However, Luzern was without a realistic chance against Dutch champions PSV and suffered another early halt to their European campaigns. Unable to defend the league title in 1990, Luzern qualified for the UEFA Cup and secured its first European win against MTK Budapest, but lost to Admira Wacker Vienna in the next round.

In a sudden change of fortune in 1991–92, Luzern failed to qualify for the championship playoff group only due to goal difference and surprisingly suffered relegation after a hapless campaign in the relegation playoffs. Only days after the shock, Luzern won its third major trophy after beating FC Lugano 3–1 in the Swiss Cup final. Rausch left the club at the end of the season.[22]

Decline and resurrection (1993–2006) edit

Having returned immediately to the Nationalliga A in 1993, the club could not live up to the earlier successes and played a mediocre role in the following years, with the exception of a cup final appearance in 1997 that was lost against champions FC Sion. The late 1990s and early 2000s were marked by frequent managerial changes and renewed financial struggles. The club's longstanding chairman, Romano Simioni (1975–1998), was forced to step down after a prolonged power struggle between different factions in the club. This was followed by a chaotic and scandal ridden period of financial and sporting instability. In 1999, the club avoided the withdrawal of its playing license only with a last-minute rescue campaign to raise funds. In 2001, Luzern's centenary year, the club's ownership entity, FC Luzern AG, entered administration.[23]

After continuously precarious league performances, Luzern eventually got relegated in 2003. The fall went on and Luzern finished behind local rivals SC Kriens for the first time in club history in 2004. Luzern lost the Swiss Cup final in 2005 against FC Zürich. In 2006, under the management of former centre-back René van Eck, the team won the Swiss Challenge League and secured promotion with a 31-match unbeaten run.[24]

The Super League era (2006–present) edit

Luzern appointed former Swiss international Ciriaco Sforza as manager and qualified for another Swiss Cup final that was lost against FC Basel in 2007. The Luzern board of directors fell out of patience with Sforza in 2008 after winning only one point in six matches. Luzern avoided relegation after appointing Rolf Fringer and eventually beating FC Lugano 5–1 on aggregate in the relegation playoffs in 2009.[25]

The signing of star player Hakan Yakin in summer 2009 transformed the team into a successful side that finished third. The subsequent UEFA Europa League qualifiers were lost against Utrecht. After a mediocre 2010–11 season, Fringer was replaced with former Swiss international Murat Yakin, brother of Hakan Yakin. Luzern finished the 2011–12 season second – the highest finish since 1989 – but lost yet another Swiss Cup final for the fourth consecutive time. After a poor start to the 2012–13 season and the defeat to Genk in the UEFA Europa League playoff round, Murat Yakin was replaced with Carlos Bernegger. In similar fashion as his predecessor, Bernegger failed to confirm a good first season performance and was replaced by former German international Markus Babbel after a poor season start and a disappointing Europa League qualifier defeat against St Johnstone. Under Babbel's management, the club's performances stabilised as it finished fifth (2014–15), third (2015–16) and fifth again (2016–17). However, Luzern continuously failed to advance in UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds after aggregate defeats to Sassuolo in 2016 and Osijek in 2017.

After a disappointing first half of the 2017–18 season, Markus Babbel was replaced with U-21 manager Gerardo Seoane. Seoane's appointment had an immediate positive impact and the club finished the season 3rd. Only weeks after the end of the season, Seoane joined new Swiss champion Young Boys Bern in a surprise move. On 22 June 2018, FC Luzern announced the appointment of former Anderlecht and Nuremberg manager René Weiler. In early 2019, following a sequence of bad results and atmospheric tensions between Weiler and the club's sporting director Remo Meyer,[26] Weiler was replaced by former Swiss international Thomas Häberli who lead the team to a 5th place finish. Luzern progressed to the next round in a European qualifying encounter for the first time since 1992 by beating Faroese side KÍ Klaksvik 2-0 on aggregate but was subsequently eliminated by Espanyol. After a poor first half of the 2019-20 campaign, Häberli was replaced by former Marseille and Getafe midfielder Fabio Celestini.

On 24 May 2021, Luzern won their third Swiss Cup, following a 3-1 win over FC St. Gallen.

Fans and rivalries edit

Although the club has only won four important national trophies, Luzern is one of the traditional football clubs in the country with a strong local supporter base. The club draws its support predominantly from Central Switzerland, leading the number of sold season tickets in the cantons of Lucerne, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Uri, Zug as well as in some parts of Aargau and Schwyz.[27] Since moving to the new stadium in 2011, Luzern has always ranked within the top five in terms of average attendance in the Swiss Super League with an average crowd of 9,000 to 14,000.[28]

The local derby is played with SC Kriens, whose stadium is located about 1.3 kilometres from FC Luzern's facilities at Allmend. On 12 August 2017, Luzern beat SC Kriens 1–0 in the opening round of the 2017–18 Swiss Cup. It was the first encounter between the two sides in an official contest since 2006.[29]

Although there are no traditional and deep rooted rivalries, periods of intensified sporting competition have sparked rivalries between Luzern and Basel in the mid-1990s and with Sion in the mid-2000s. A majority of the fans, particularly Ultra groups, view FC St. Gallen as a major rival. Matches with FC Aarau are also by many considered as a local derby and attract big numbers of Luzern supporters, especially to away matches.

Stadium edit

Between 1934 and 2009, the club played its home games at the Stadion Allmend, which had a theoretical capacity of 25,000. For security reasons however, the Swiss Football Association did not allow more than 13,000 to attend in the final year of its existence in 2009. Until a new stadium was completed in 2011, Luzern temporarily played its home matches at the Gersag Stadion in Emmenbrücke.

Swissporarena, home to FC Luzern.

In August 2011, the club moved into the newly built Swissporarena, located at the former location of the old stadium. The opening match ended with a 0–0 draw against FC Thun.

Honours edit

The greatest success in the club's history was winning the championship in 1989 under the management of German head coach Friedel Rausch. Furthermore, the club played in six Swiss Cup finals, winning two by defeating FC Grenchen 1–0 in 1960 and FC Lugano 3–1 (after extra time) in 1992. Later, the club lost four cup finals in a row: in 1997 against Sion (4–5 on penalties), in 2005 against Zürich (1–3), and twice against Basel, in 2007 (0–1) and 2012 (2–4 on penalties). Reaching the cup final in 2005 as a second-tier club, the promotion back to the Super League in 2006, reaching the cup finals in 2007 and 2012 and winning the cup in 2021 rank as the club's most recent successes.[30]

All-time league table edit

Luzern is ranked 9th in the all-time league table.[31]

European appearances edit

Season Competition Round Club 1st leg 2nd leg Aggregate
1960–61 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup QF   Fiorentina 0–3 2–6 2–9
1986–87 UEFA Cup 1R   Spartak Moscow 0–0 0–1 0–1
1989–90 European Cup 1R   PSV 0–3 0–2 0–5
1990–91 UEFA Cup 1R   MTK Budapest 1–1 2–1 3–2
2R   SCN Admira/Wacker 0–1 1–1 1–2
1992–93 European Cup Winners' Cup 1R   Levski Sofia 1–2 1–0 2–2 (a)
2R   Feyenoord 1–0 1–4 2–4
1997–98 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup 1R   Slavia Prague 2–4 0–2 2–6
2010–11 UEFA Europa League 3Q   Utrecht 0–1 1–3 1–4
2012–13 UEFA Europa League PO   Genk 2–1 0–2 2–3
2014–15 UEFA Europa League 2Q   St Johnstone 1–1 1–1 (aet) 2–2 (4–5 p.)
2016–17 UEFA Europa League 3Q   Sassuolo 1–1 0–3 1–4
2017–18 UEFA Europa League 2Q   Osijek 0–2 2–1 2–3
2018–19 UEFA Europa League 3Q   Olympiacos 0–4 1–3 1–7
2019–20 UEFA Europa League 2Q   KÍ Klaksvík 1–0 1–0 2–0
3Q   Espanyol 0–3 0–3 0–6
2021–22 UEFA Europa Conference League 3Q   Feyenoord 0–3 0–3 0−6
2023–24 UEFA Europa Conference League 2Q   Djurgårdens IF 1–1 2–1 3–2
3Q   Hibernian 2–2 1–3 3–5


Recent seasons edit

As of 25 May 2021.

The season-by-season performance of the club over the last years:[33]

Season Rank P W D L F A GD Pts Cup EL
2006–07 8 36 8 9 19 31 58 −27 33 Runner-up -
2007–08 6 36 10 14 12 40 49 −9 44 R16 -
2008–09 9* 36 9 8 19 45 62 −17 35 SF -
2009–10 4 36 17 7 12 66 55 +11 58 QF -
2010–11 6 36 13 9 14 62 57 +5 48 R16 3Q
2011–12 2 36 14 12 8 46 32 +14 54 Runner-up -
2012–13 8 36 10 12 14 41 52 −11 42 1R PO
2013–14 4 36 15 6 15 48 54 −6 51 SF -
2014–15 5 36 12 11 13 54 46 +8 47 R16 2Q
2015–16 3 36 15 9 12 59 50 +9 54 SF -
2016–17 5 36 14 8 14 62 66 −4 50 SF 3Q
2017–18 3 36 15 9 12 51 51 0 54 QF 2Q
2018–19 5 36 14 4 18 56 61 −5 46 SF 3Q
2019–20 6 36 13 7 16 42 50 −8 46 QF 3Q
2020–21 5 36 12 10 14 62 59 +3 46 Winner -

Rank = Rank in the Swiss Super League; P = Played; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Loss; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points; Cup = Swiss Cup; EL = UEFA Europa League.
in = Still in competition; – = Not attended; 1R = 1st round; 2R = 2nd round; R16 = Round of sixteen; QF = Quarter-finals; SF = Semi-finals; 2Q = 2nd qualifying round; 3Q = 3rd qualifying round; PO = play-off round.
*Avoided relegation by beating FC Lugano 5 – 1 on aggregate in the relegation play-offs.

Players edit

Current squad edit

As of 5 February 2024[34]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
1 GK   SUI Pascal Loretz
2 DF   SUI Severin Ottiger
3 DF   SWE Jesper Löfgren (on loan from Djurgårdens)
4 DF   SUI Luca Jaquez
5 DF   SUI Denis Simani
6 MF   SUI Ardon Jashari
7 MF   GER Max Meyer
9 FW   AUT Adrian Grbić (on loan from Lorient)
10 MF   SUI Kevin Spadanuda
11 MF   FRA Teddy Okou
13 DF   CZE Martin Frýdek
14 MF   SUI Luuk Breedijk
16 MF   SVK Jakub Kadák
17 FW   TOG Thibault Klidjé
No. Pos. Nation Player
18 MF   SUI Nicky Beloko
20 DF   GER Pius Dorn
22 DF   SUI Dario Ulrich
23 DF   SUI Mauricio Willimann
27 FW   SUI Lars Villiger
30 DF   KOS Ismajl Beka
32 MF   SUI Nicolas Haas (on loan from Empoli)
33 DF   SUI Leny Meyer
41 MF   SUI Noah Rupp
44 GK   SUI Diego Heller
69 MF   FRA Sofyan Chader
90 GK   SRB Vaso Vasić
99 FW   SUI Kemal Ademi

Other players under contract edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   SUI Serkan Izmirlioglu
MF   SUI Samuele Campo
No. Pos. Nation Player
MF   SUI Tyron Owusu

Out on loan edit

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Pos. Nation Player
DF   SUI Rúben Dantas Fernandes (at Wil until 30 June 2024)
DF   SUI Thoma Monney (at Biel-Bienne until 30 June 2024)
MF   GHA Samuel Alabi (at Baden until 30 June 2024)
No. Pos. Nation Player
FW   SUI Yvan Alounga (at Bellinzona until 30 June 2024)
FW   URU Joaquín Ardaiz (at Şanlıurfaspor until 30 June 2024)
FW   GER Varol Tasar (at Yverdon until 30 June 2024)
FW   SUI Nando Toggenburger (at Thun until 30 June 2024)

Personnel edit

As of 22 November 2021.

Current technical staff edit

Name Function
Mario Frick Head coach
Genesio Colatrella Assistant coach
Lorenzo Bucchi Goalkeeper coach
Christian Schmidt Fitness coach
Remo Meyer Director of Football


Head coaches since 2006 edit

No. Coach from until days Points per game
1   Ciriaco Sforza 1 July 2006 10 August 2008 771 1.15
2   Jean-Daniel Gross (interim) 11 August 2008 17 August 2008 6 -
3   Roberto Morinini 17 August 2008 27 October 2008 71 0.88
4   Rolf Fringer 27 October 2008 2 Mai 2011 917 1.51
5   Christian Brand (interim) 2 May 2011 30 June 2011 59 0.80
6   Murat Yakin 1 July 2011 19 August 2012 415 1.57
7   Ryszard Komornicki 20 August 2012 2 April 2013 225 1.00
8   Gerardo Seoane (interim) 4 April 2013 8 April 2013 4 -
9   Carlos Bernegger 8 April 2013 6 October 2014 546 1.44
10   Markus Babbel 13 October 2014 5 January 2018 1180 1.50
11   Gerardo Seoane 9 January 2018 1 June 2018 143 2.00
12   René Weiler 22 June 2018 17 February 2019 231 1.31
13   Thomas Häberli 21 February 2019 16 December 2019 298 1.36
14   Fabio Celestini 2 January 2020 22 November 2021 691
15   Sandro Chieffo (interim) 22 November 2021 20 December 2021 28
15   Mario Frick 20 December 2021 0

Head coaches until 2006 edit


Owners and Leadership edit

Due to formal licensing requirements, the professional football operations of FC Luzern are consolidated under FC Luzern Innerschweiz AG, a company that is legally and financially separated from the club FC Luzern which retains the non-professional sections of the sports club.

FC Luzern Innerschweiz AG is ultimately owned by Bernhard Alpstaeg (52%) and Josef Bieri (48%) via their control of FCL Holding AG.[37][38]

The current president is former player Stefan Wolf.

Former notable players edit

References edit

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