METERIn mid-February, Stefan Krämer, managing partner of Frankfurt LionsIn an interview with Magenta Sport, the “worst case scenario” was mentioned, that is, the relegation of the German Ice Hockey League (DEL). At that moment, at the third break of the derby against Adler Mannheim, he expressed confidence that the club could also be one of the best teams in DEL2, and then he uttered a phrase that is worth remembering these days: “From “Today, if we only had one or two players under contract (for DEL2, editor), that would definitely be a lot of work for Franz.”

He was referring to Löwen's sports director. Franz David Fritzmeier, who has worked at the club for six and a half years and apparently enjoyed so much confidence from the general director in February that he would even have returned with him to the second division. Now, less than two months later, the Lions can plan for another Premier League season. But whether Fritzmeier will be the one driving these plans seems more questionable than ever.

Last week, “Ice Hockey News” first reported on rumors of a dispute between Krämer and Fritzmeier over the club's realignment. On Friday night, the Eisblog portal reported that the club and Fritzmeier had parted ways. And Ice Hockey News reported in its Tuesday edition that Fritzmeier had already been out two weeks ago.

No denial

The situation is opaque. Those interested apparently do not want to change anything: the shareholders have not responded to FAZ's questions in recent days. Fritzmeier simply told FAZ that he was on vacation. As no one denies, there are currently many signs that the collaboration is coming to an end. The big question, if this happens, is: What has so strained the relationship between the management and the sports director in such a short time that a continuation is no longer possible?

As long as both sides remain publicly silent, one can only speculate about the background. However, the first differences became evident when coach Matti Tiilikainen was fired in January. The night before, Fritzmeier had loudly praised the coach he had chosen. The next day, the Finn was allowed to pack his bags. This suggests that the decision was made by management. Something else speaks in favor: Fritzmeier made it known in the following press conference that he accepted the decision to take over as interim coach, but that he imagined the rest of the season in a different way.

Previously, the tasks seemed to be with the lions always strictly divided. While Fritzmeier was responsible for the sport with a budget at his disposal, the partners Krämer and Andreas Stracke took care of all other professional areas. The collaboration was a success for a long time. Fritzmeier brought the Lions back to the DEL and, in addition to experienced players, he also signed talents with a lot of potential who played in Frankfurt.

With the 43-year-old on the board, the Lions barely kept it classy. A result with which the Lions management was also publicly satisfied. After all, DEL's second year motto was: Come to stay. The mixed results of last season after a good start were always explained by Fritzmeier, but also by the shareholders, in reference to the Lions' limited financial budget.

This is further compounded by the release of Tiilikainen, who signed a two-year contract upon arrival. In addition to a new coach, the Lions are also looking for a title sponsor. Now a sports director could be added, which would complicate things more.

Fritzmeier had already moved forward with planning for the new season. Some contract extensions for important players such as Dominik Bokk and Maksim Matushkin have been confirmed for some time. The same should apply to player transfers, which have not yet been officially confirmed by the club. Under normal circumstances, given the team's planning already advanced, there would be much to suggest a quieter summer. Currently the club seems to be very far from that.