The club is most commonly known for its professional football team which plays in the Bundesliga. Due to their numerous promotions and relegations, they are considered as a yo-yo club. They won promotion to the Bundesliga seven times which is a German record. In 1971, the club played a key role in the Bundesliga scandal when they bribed their opponents.
Arminia plays their home games at the Bielefelder Alm stadium since 1926. Since 2004 the stadium has been named SchücoArena through a sponsorship deal.
Arminia Bielefeld was founded on 3 May 1905 as 1. Bielefelder FC Arminia. The fourteen men who founded the club were from the local bourgeoise. Two weeks later, the club played its first match against a side from Osnabrück. Neither the name of the opponent nor the result are known. The club was admitted to the DFB in the same year. In 1907, local rivals FC Siegfried joined Arminia, a move which strengthend Arminia‘s squad.
After playing on various grounds, Arminia moved to a new home at the Pottenau in 1910. Their first big achievement came in 1913, when they won the Westphalian championship after a 5-1 win over BV Dortmund 04. The outbreak of World War I interrupted Arminia rise to the top. In 1919, Arminia merged with Bielefelder Turngemeinde 1848 to form TG Arminia Bielefeld. However, the merged broke up in 1922 and both parent clubs were formed again.
Arminia won the West German championship in 1922. Originally, they were even on points with Kölner BC 01, but Köln fieled an ineligible player in one match. Arminia played played for the first time in the German championships but were eliminated in the quarter-finals after losing 0-5 to FC Wacker München. In 1923, Arminia won their second West German championship in a dramatic way. They trailed TuRU Düsseldorf 1-3 at half time of the final, but came from behind to win 4-3 after extra time. Arminia faced Union Oberschöneweide in the quarter-finals of the German championships. The match ended goalless, so a replay was held. Arminia led 1-0 and suffered the equalizer in injury time. The Berlin side won the match after extra time. Walter Claus-Oehler became Arminia‘s first player to win a cap in the German national team. Arminia won further Westphalian titles from 1924 to 1927 but were unable to repeat their success in the West German championships. On 30 January 1926, the club took its current name Deutscher Sportclub Arminia Bielefeld. Their next piece of silverware was won in 1932 with a triumph in the Westphalian cup.
In 1933, Arminia qualified for the Gauliga Westfalen, from which they were relegated after the inaugural season. Three attempts of gaining promotion failed before their return to the top flight was won in 1938. Their best performance in the Gauliga was the 1939-40 campaign, where Arminia finshed second. Two years later, Arminia was one only two teams to win a match at Schalke 04. On 25 July 1943 Arminia merged with local rivals VfB 03 Bielefeld. The merger finshed the 1943-44 season on the last place.
After World War II, a new league with all teams who competed in the Gauliga Westfalen was formed. Arminia were relegated and failed to win repromotion. In 1947-48, Arminia were a third division side for the first time in their history. After a dominating season in the Bezirksklasse, Arminia was deducted 14 points because they fielded an ineligible player. The next season was already under way when the Landesliga (II) was expanded by two teams. Arminia took their chance, won the league and gained promotion to the Oberliga West.
The dream lasted for only a year. Arminia beat Schalke 4-2 at home but finshed only second from the bottom. In 1954, Arminia were relegated to the third division. It took eight years before Arminia were a second division side again. They struggled to finish on seventh place to secure a spot in the newly formed Regionalliga West.
Arminia finished their first seasons in mid-table. In 1966, Arminia beat Alemannia Aachen to claim the West German cup for the first time. A year later, forward Ernst Kuster joined the team and went on to become the club‘s all-time leading goal scorer. A 0-1 loss to Wuppertaler SV on the last day of the 1966-67 season held Arminia to enter the Bundesliga promotion play-offs. Arminia were runners-up in the 1969-70 season and won promotion to the Bundesliga after a 2-0 win at Tennis Borussia Berlin in the play-offs.
The team had a poor start in their first Bundesliga season and seemed to be doomed when they started to bribe their opponents. The first fixed match was Arminia‘s 1-0 win at Schalke 04. Arminia also bribed VfB Stuttgart and Hertha BSC. Bielefeld finished 14th and started their preparations for the next season when the scandal was unveiled. Arminia was allowed to play the 71-72 season but were forced to relegate to the Regionalliga. Arminia struggled in the following seasons, but were good enough to be appointed to the newly formed 2. Fußball-Bundesliga in 1974.
After two season in mid-table, Arminia had good chances of returning to the Bundesliga in 1976-77 but they finished only as runner-up behind FC St. Pauli. They faced TSV München 1860 in a two-legged play-off whose winner would win promotion to the top flight. Arminia won the first match at home 4-0, but lost the second leg in Munich 0-4. A third match had to played in Frankfurt which München won 2-0.
The team was shocked but bounced back to win promotion in 1977-78. Arminia started well and on 10 March 1979, they won 4-0 at Bayern München. However, Arminia were hit by a slump and were relegated again. The club managed to keep the team together and bounced back after a record-breaking year. They won 30 of 38 matches, scored 120 goals, had a 28 matches unbeaten streak and set a league record by beating Arminia Hannover 11-0.
Arminia struggled to avoid relegation and managed to stay in the Bundesliga for five years, including two finishes on eighth place in 1982-83 and 1983-84. An ugly event shocked Germany when Werder Bremen defender Norbert Siegmann slashed Ewald Lienen‘s right thigh during a match. The success on the pitch didn‘t prevent the club from suffering declining attendances which enlarged the financial problems. In 1984-85, Arminia finished third from the bottom and lost the relegation play-offs against 1. FC Saarbrücken.
The team failed to gain re-promotion and in the fall of 1987, Arminia had debts of 4.5 million Mark. The result was a last place finish in 1987-88. Ernst Middendorp became the new manager and assembled a young team for the new season. Arminia led the way in the Oberliga Westfalen but finished only second in 1988-89. They won the Oberliga a year later, but failed in the promotion play-offs to VfB Oldenburg and TSV Havelse. Four dismal years followed in which the team started well but were unable to compete for the championship.
In the spring of 1994, Arminia created a relatively large media buzz by signing veteran Bundesliga players like Thomas von Heesen, Armin Eck and Fritz Walter. Arminia struggled at first but went on the become champions of the newly formed Regionalliga West/Südwest and runners-up in the Second Bundesliga 1995-96. Arminia signed Stefan Kuntz for the Bundesliga season 1996-97, their first in 11 years and finished on 14th position.
The club wrote German football history by signing Iranian players Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri. However, after a poor run after the winter break, Arminia were relegated. They bounced back by winning the 1998-99 season. Bruno Labbadia became the league‘s top scorer with 28 goals. The club suffered from financial problems and entered the 1999-2000 season with a smaller budget. Relegation followed again after the team became the third team in Bundesliga history to lose ten matches in a row.
Arminia struggled against relegation again the next season and avoided to drop into the Regionalliga in close season. Their fortunes turned around and Arminia won their sixth promotion to the Bundesliga in 2001-02 with Artur Wichniarek scoring 18 goals. Arminia were almost saved the next year but a slump with only two points out of the last six matches sealed relegation again.
The team bounced back again and stayed in the top flight ever since. Arminia reached the semi-finals of the German cup in 2005 and 2006. Arminia will play their fifth consecutive Bundesliga season in 2008-09.
Arminia played their first home matches at the Kesselbrink in downtown Bielefeld. They moved to a new ground at the Kaiserstraße (today: August-Bebel-Straße) in 1907 and to the Pottenau in 1910. In 1926, Arminia leased a ground from a farmer named Lohmann. The ground didn‘t look like a football pitch. The club member Heinrich Pahl said that the area looks like an Alm (German for alpine grassland). The stadium was known as the Alm. Arminia played its first match against Victoria Hamburg on 1 May 1926. The first grandstands were constructed in 1954. When Arminia won promotion to the Bundesliga in 1970, the Alm underwent a genereal development. A main stand with seats was built and the northern and eastern stands were enlarged. The Alm had a capacity of 30,000 and floodlights were installed. In 1978, a roof was added to the main stands and the other stands were enlarged again. The stadium had a capacity of 35,000 then.
When Arminia was relegated to the Oberliga in 1988, the northern and the southern stand were torn down because both stands didn‘t match the new safety regulations. The eastern stand was also made smaller and became a roof. The capacity was reduced to about 15,000. After Arminia won promotion to the Bundesliga in 1996, the main and northern stands were demolished and completely rebuilded. The same happened to the south stand in 1999. In 2004, Arminia signed a sponsorship deal with Schüco and the stadium was named SchücoArena. The latest redevelopment saw the eastern stand being rebuilt in 2008.
The Bielefelder Alm has a capacity of 28,008 places, including 20,381 seats. Bielefelder Alm is a candidate to host matches of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Arminia‘s fans come primarely from the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region with a catchment area of about 100 kilometers around Bielefeld. There are around 100 fanclubs, mostly from Ostwestfalen-Lippe. However, there are fanclubs in Berlin, Stuttgart, Austria and the Netherlands.
Manager - Ernst Middendorp