Nerves seem to be getting to the St Pauli players as they stand on the verge of promotion. Or maybe they just joined their supporters in too much party celebration after the deserved victory last week over closest rivals Augsburg. Whatever the truth they certainly played with a hangover this weekend, losing 2-1 away to Union Berlin, the old East Germany team. With Augsburg recovering from that defeat in Hamburg to get a victory, that cut the gap between second and third back to a single point.

Union Berlin take the points

Midfielder Florian Bruns put it most succinctly after the match “That was a shit game!” but then added “The advantage is still with us”. Goalkeeper Hain, who has been one of the stars of the campaign and was not at fault for either Union goal, wryly laughed off any notion of them being under extreme stress. In a manner very consistent with St Pauli philosophy, the big keeper told the press after the game. “Extreme stress? No. That’s felt by soldiers in Afghanistan, or people facing open heart surgery, not players of a game.”

The manager Stanislawski was less sanguine. He tetchily lambasted his players for a poor performance, and criticised them for throwing  away a draw they seemed to have secured by allowing Union to score 3 minutes from the end. However, ever the philosopher Stanislawski ended his rant with the promise that they would see off  Koblenz in the next game and added the comment “A little excitement is beautiful.”

So the hundreds of thousands of Celtic St Pauli followers around the world need not panic yet. The boys in brown shirts have two home games left in their last three. The remaining games, home to already relegated Koblenz on the 23rd; away to Greuther Furth on 2nd May; and a last day home game against Paderborn on 9th May looks an easier fixture programme than Augsburg’s two away games and only 1 home game. With goal difference favouring St Pauli by a 9 goal margin they should still manage to secure automatic promotion.  Still let us all keep all fingers crossed until it is mathematically sealed and hope that nothing conspires to keep most ideologically sound club in the world out of the big league.

A couple of days after the disappointment of the defeat in Berlin St Pauli received very good news. The very strict German Football authorities issued the club with its licence for season 2010-2011. The German authorities are the most ferocious of any in Europe in refusing teams with debts or financial insecurities permission to play in their top league. Given the financial problems and subsequent bankruptcy that followed St Pauli’s last relegation from the Bundesliga in 2002 and the subsequent forced demotion to the semi-professional Regional League, there had been a degree of worry both within and around the club that it might not be seen as completely out of the woods and  might be denied permission to go up to the Bundesliga. Tuesday’s issue of the licence put an end to all these fears. The club Vice President Marcus Schulz revelled in this news. He described it as a great day for the club, and the result of 7 years of work, day and night.. Schulz confirmed the German authorities had recognised the sound finances of the club and promised that St Pauli would not start paying funny money in players wages next season.