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S.B.V. Excelsior is a professional football club based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. It was founded on 23 July 1902 and was formerly known as "Rotterdamse Voetbal en Atletiek Vereniging Excelsior" (Rotterdam Football and Athletics Union Excelsior). The club was relegated from the top Dutch league, Eredivisie in 2007–08, and promoted back to the Eredivisie at the end of the 2009–10 season. After their relegation in 2012, the team returned to the Eredivisie two years later.
Until 2015, Excelsior was a satellite club of Feyenoord. As such, Feyenoord gave Excelsior money and players (either on loan or free transfer). In 2005, the link between the two clubs was severed. It was reinstated in 2009, resulting in the loan of several Feyenoord players to Excelsior for the 2009–10 season. Excelsior's home stadium is the Stadion Woudestein, which has a capacity of about 4,500, one of the smallest stadiums hosting professional football in the Netherlands.
The main rival of Excelsior is Sparta, another professional football team from Rotterdam.
Excelsior were officially formed on 23 July 1902 as Rotterdamse Voetbal en Atletiek Vereniging Excelsior (English: Rotterdam Football and Athletics Club Excelsior). However, the initial founders of the club, a group of close friends located in the Kralingen district of Rotterdam, were already playing their football matches together on the fields of the eighteenth century buitenplaats Woudesteyn. After the actual establishment of the club, the municipality officially gave permission to use the land. As football was still an elite sport at the beginning of the 20th century, Excelsior became one of the first working class clubs in the Netherlands.
In the season 1945–46, Excelsior gained their first success by promoting to the Eerste Klasse, the highest tier of Dutch football before professional football was introduced in 1954. The deciding match against VUC was played in De Kuip and attracted 52.000 spectators. Excelsior relegated in the next season, but managed to promote for the second time in the season 1951–52. After the introduction of professional football, Excelsior won the Eerste Divisie championship three times (1974, 1979 and 2006) and promoted to the Eredivisie various times, usually to relegate not long afterwards.
Excelsior once reached the KNVB Cup final in the season 1929–30, but lost the match to fellow Rotterdam club Feyenoord (0–1). Excelsior's biggest pre-war achievement was the win of the Zilveren Bal trophy. Excelsior beat Feyenoord (5–0) in the finals of the highly rated pre-season tournament.
Besides Excelsior, there are two more professional clubs from Rotterdam; Feyenoord and Sparta. Being the smallest professional club in Rotterdam, Excelsior always had to be creative to survive. This creativity made Excelsior play a pioneering role within Dutch football. In the mid-fifties, Excelsior were the leading club behind the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands. When the KNVB continued to refuse payments in football, Excelsior chairman Henk Zon and board member Aad Libregts managed to persuade association president Hans Hopster, in cooperation with the directors of Feyenoord, Sparta and ADO Den Haag. In August 1954 the KNVB accepted the proposal and professional football was introduced.
Excelsior in the 1963/64 Season
In 1958 Excelsior became the first Dutch club with covered stands. Later, in 1974, Excelsior also were the first Dutch club with shirt advertising. Against the then existing rules, the club put an 'A' on the shirt. The character was supposed to stand for 'Team A', but in reality it stood for Akai, the company of main investor Rob Albers. The KNVB decided to ban the 'A' from the shirt and it would take until 1982 for shirt advertising to be introduced. Akai would adorn the shirts of Excelsior until the season 1999–00.
In 1979, Excelsior chairman Jaap Bontenbal and Feyenoord manager Peter Stephan were at the start of the close relationship between the two Rotterdam clubs Excelsior and Feyenoord. The finger tight relationship that existed between the two clubs since then was contractually sealed in 1996 with an official partnership. Excelsior became Feyenoord's feeder club and provided experience and training for young talented Feyenoord players.
On 20 December 2008, Feyenoord announced not to renew the partnership contract with Excelsior due to financial and flexibility reasons. However, only five months later, Feyenoord and Excelsior agreed on an even more extensive partnership. As part of the new agreement, the clubs started a joint regional youth academy called Feyenoord Academy and merged the club's reserve teams. Also, Excelsior continued to be Feyenoord's feeder club. Excelsior's managing director Simon Kelder was pleased with the new extensive partnership: "I already regretted the earlier withdrawal of cooperation from Feyenoord, but now we get something better in return. It doesn't only reduces the costs, but I am also convinced both clubs will benefit on sportive grounds."
A majority of the Excelsior fans have always been against a partnership with Feyenoord. Michel van der Neut, chairman of Excelsior's supporters club, claimed: "Excelsior sold her soul with the extended partnership. Excelsior simply stops existing this way."
In 2010 Excelsior returned to the highest tier of Dutch football, after defeating crosstown rival Sparta Rotterdam in the final of the Eredivisie promotion/relegation play-offs. The team was mostly composed by Feyenoord loanees and was coached by former Feyenoord youth coach Alex Pastoor. In the 2010–11 season Excelsior made a flying start in the Eredivisie, gaining ten points in its first five matches, including a home victory in the Rotterdam derby against Feyenoord (3–2). In the remainder of the season, Excelsior upset some of the larger league teams at home, winning against AZ and getting draws against Groningen and eventual league champions Ajax. In the final match of the regular season, Excelsior got a 4–1 win away at Vitesse Arnhem, a result that left them one goal short of staying up. Finishing 16th, Excelsior had to face FC Den Bosch and Helmond Sport in the relegation / promotion play-offs. A 4–2 home win against Helmond sport ensured another season of Eredivisie football for Excelsior.
Excelsior finished bottom of the table in the Eredivisie at the end of the 2011–12 season, managing only four wins in 34 matches. The club was again relegated to the Eerste Divisie.