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Cologne icon Podolski calls for big changes after latest relegation

Lukas Podolski, President of the "Baller League", stands next to the pitch at Motorworld. Cologne legend Lukas Podolski has called for radical structural changes at the club after a seventh relegation from the Bundesliga. Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa
Lukas Podolski, President of the "Baller League", stands next to the pitch at Motorworld. Cologne legend Lukas Podolski has called for radical structural changes at the club after a seventh relegation from the Bundesliga. Rolf Vennenbernd/dpa

Cologne legend Lukas Podolski has called for radical structural changes at the club after a seventh relegation from the Bundesliga.

Podolski, 38, issued sharp criticism on the current leadership and also told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger paper on Monday that the club appeared not interested in a past offer to help them.

"There are simply too many people making decisions at FC. People who have little or no idea about professional football. The circle of decision-makers is simply too large," he said.

"Instead, FC needs a small circle of perhaps three or four people who can make smart decisions quickly and efficiently.

"Of course things can't go on like this. Something has to change."

Podolski joined Cologne as a 10-year-old and played for the first team 2003-2006 and 2009-2012, including one year in the second tier. Other clubs he played for include Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Galatasaray and Vissel Kobe.

The forward won 130 Germany caps, was part of the squad that won the 2014 World Cup, and is still playing at Gornik Zabrze in his birth country of Poland which he left with his parents for the Cologne region as an infant.

The Cologne club has always been dear to him, he remains a fan favourite, and said he was not sure whether he would offer to help the club again after being previously snubbed.

"My willingness would certainly be greater if I had been wanted and allowed to help in the past. But in the past, my help was rarely wanted," he said.

"I can only guess what the reasons were: Envy? Resentment? The fear that I might take the limelight away from those responsible and overshadow them? I don't know."

Podolski was joined in his criticism by Dieter Prestin, who was part of the Cologne team that won the Bundesliga and German Cup double in 1978 and would be ready to take responsibility now with a team.

"We are seriously considering requesting an extraordinary general meeting if the club's management does not take responsibility on its own initiative," Prestin said.

"The members and fans, with whom I am in dialogue, only want one thing: a fresh start. Those responsible should draw the consequences and clear the way."