Cologne Crocodiles coaches resign and players threaten the same in feud with management

The Cologne Crocodiles are coming off of one of their best seasons in the past decade notching eight wins and a semifinal appearance in the always-competitive Northern conference of the German Football League.

However, following a very successful season under first-year head coach David Odenthal, he and his entire staff have resigned after weeks of disagreements with the club’s management. Much of the GFL roster has also announced that they would no longer play for the Crocodiles next season if these issues aren’t resolved. Odenthal gave his reasoning for resigning (via Kolnisch Rundschau)

 “You can’t put together a competitive Premier League team with the budget that’s been given to us.”

“We, the coaching staff of the GFL team, are resigning from our offices with effect from December 31, 2022. The reasons for this are manifold and complex. Since this is not an easy and short-term decision, we fought long and hard internally. We are aware of the difficult situation of a GFL team at the moment, but we were very surprised at how little concession and will we received with regard to planning for 2023. Rather, we were given a very short decision corridor to either accept drastic reductions or to end the cooperation.”

Former Cologne Crocodiles Head Coach David Odenthal

Although there was plenty of on-field success for head coach David Odenthal and the players, the board was not apparently not prepared for two expensive road playoff games costing the team thousands in additional travel expenses. In addition, there were unforeseen expenses as import players were paid several performance bonuses as well as the extra month of salary. Dirk Ghadamgahi the Crocodiles sports director, briefly touches on the club’s financial situation:

“We can only spend what we actually have and don’t want to go into debt next season. The budget for the first team in 2023 is identical to that of 2022. The GFL team receives 95 percent of the total budget, which consists of sponsorship money and membership fees. “

Three of the Crocodiles top players from last season have already left as veteran quarterback Christian Strong and All-Star receivers Aaron Jackson and Jarvis Mcclam have all darted for the European League of Football. Other clubs in the region feature the Cologne Centurions, the Rhein Fire, and the Düsseldorf Panther, all hoping to lure some of the best home-grown talents away from the turbulence within the Crocodiles club.

The Crocodiles management has already signed two American players in wide receiver Tre Adger from Benedictine College and linebacker Joseph Kordus, who was a standout for the Helsinki Wolverines in Finland last season.

Cologne Crocodiles QB Christian Strong looks downfield in game vs Berlin Adler on June 25, 2022. Photo: Hans Kaestle

The next major step for both parties will be this Sunday, as Crocodiles management will see Odenthal and the coaches in a meeting arranged by Cologne businessman and former Crocodiles player Wolfgang von Moers. Wolfgang has been a supporter and friend of the club since his playing days in the 1980’s. Now he, and all of the Crocodiles greater organization hope a solution can be found.

If the club were to lose the core of its senior players and coaches, it would be Crocodiles biggest crisis since being relegated to the fifth division in 2001. Fans around the city hope the long standing club can right the ship as they face uncertainty heading into the new year.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and