1972 - 1988: changeable years - relegation, 3 cup finals , financial problems

1972/73: The expensive squad of the preceding two years leads to financial problems in Austria's 40 year anniversary season. The club faces debts of 10.5 million Austria Schillings. A sponsorship deal with "Gerngross" is signed which leads to the change of the official club name SV Austria Salzburg into "SV Gerngross A. Salzburg". Protests of supporters fell on deaf ears. The money of the deal is used to pay back the debts. In the end, Austria Salzburg finishes at the disappointing seventh place and average attendance fall from 8.700 (1971/72) to 4.400.

1973-1975:Guenther Praschak returns to the Austria. He takes over from the unpopular Erich Hof. Money is still a problem and some players have to be sold. The club finishes at the eighth position of the Austrian league but makes it to the finals of the Austrian Cup after beating Bregenz, Bludenz, Eisenstadt, Donawitz and Wacker Innsbruck. The first leg against Vienna's Austria Wien is lost 1:2. Hala scores in the return leg on home soil but an own goal by Filzmoser shatters the dream of winning the Austrian Cup.

1975/76: Austria plays one of its best seasons and qualifies for the UEFA-CUP (finishes at 4th) despite the fact that Grosser, Kibler and Hirnschrodt leave the club.

1976/77 ist Probably the most changeable season in the history of Salzburg. Hansi Reich, a former pupil of Max Merkel, leads the club back to the top of the league: after 10 games and 12 points Salzburg is in second position just one point behind leading Innsbruck. After 18 games and still 12 points Salzburg is bottom of the table and remains there until the end of the season and is thus relegated. Salzburg makes it to the second round of the UEFA-Cup for the first time in the club's history. The club makes it to the second round although the first leg in Turkey against Adanaspor is lost 0:2. In the return leg in Salzburg the home side wins 5:0 and faces Red Star Belgrade in the second round. A record attendance of 18.000 at Lehen witnesses a sensational 2:1 victory after being down by one goal. 23 supporters accompany the team to Belgrade although nobody really believes in success. Red Star wins the game 1:0 with help of the English referee "Taylor" (according to newspapers). Prior to the start of the Second Division Austria Salzburg takes part in the Hexagonal tournament in South America where they beat Pele's FC SANTOS by 1:0 and finish at the second place ahead of Everton, Colo-Colo and River Plate.

1977/78 Salzburg wins automatic promotion. Guenther Praschak leaves again and Karl Kirchberger is appointed as Salzburg's new chairman. Salzburg manages to get to the Semi-finals of the Austrian Cup were they are defeated by VOEST Linz.



The 1978 Second Division champions team


1978/79: Salzburg is financially sound in the meantime and manages to sign a sponsorship deal with the reliable Austrian Casinos company. Unfortunately, the club has to pay a high prize for it. The official club name is changed again but this time "Austria" disappears and the new official name is "SV Casino Salzburg". Nevertheless, supporters still refer to the club as their "Austria". The club finishes at a mid-table position (6th place) because of its poor away performances.

1979/80 The Austria again finishes at the 6th position and for the second time in its history reaches the cup finals after beating Bregenz, Sturm Graz, Wolfsberg and St.Veit. Salzburg loses 2:1 on aggregate despite a 1:0 victory (Leo Weiss scored) against Austria Vienna. The first leg at Lehen is witnessed by a disappointing crowd of just 7.000. Vienna's goals have been scored by Schachner and Gasselich.

1980/81: Although the cup final has been lost we are allowed to play in the Cup Winners Cup because Austria Vienna also wins the Austrian championship. The performance against Germany's Fortuna Duesseldorf is a disgrace. The first leg at Lehen is lost by three goals and the return leg 0:5. League performances are also very poor and coach Rudolf Strittich is replaced by Gustl Starek and relegation is avoided. Victories over Wattens, Vorwaerts Steyr and LASK Linz help to ensure a place in the Austrian Cup final for the second time in as many years. The final is lost again, this time after extra time against Graz AK.

1981/82 Joschi Obert's Austria finishes on goal difference one place above the bottom but relegation has been no cause for concern because of the re-introduction of a league with 16 teams (formerly only 10 teams). Leo Lainer is leaving Austria Salzburg for Vienna's Rapid and so does Hermann Stadler the following year.

1982/83:After a poor start to the season, coach Obert decides to bring back the banned Hannes Winkelbauer. The 35 year old Winkelbauer leads the team to the 5th place of the table. The most remarkable performance of the season is a 1:0 victory at Austria Vienna. Lack of money means that the team has to travel to Vienna on the same day at 4 o'clock in the morning.

1983/84: An average season ends with the 10th place. Karl Kirchberger is replaced by Rudolf Quehenberger who takes the liability of the growing debt of 12 million Austrian schillings.

1984/85: The Austrian league is reduced from 16 to 12 teams and Salzburg becomes one of the victims of this reform. A 15th league position leads to relegation and 4 years of second division football. Salzburg (AK) is promoted to the first division in the same year.

1985-1988: Apart from the local derbies against Salzburg AK and USV (later FC) Salzburg, the years in the second division are without highlights and quite miserable. The disappointing performances and the growing debts lead to the plan of merging with SAK. Fortunately, the SAK executive committee votes against the amalgamation. Attendance is still good and up to 12.000 spectators make it to Lehen. One of the main attractions during that time is the young native Heimo Pfeifenberger who is transferred to Rapid Vienna in 1988.

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