The club was known as SV Austria Salzburg, and had several sponsored names, before being bought by the Red Bull company in 2005 who renamed the club and changed its colours from its traditional violet and white to red and white. The change resulted in some of the team's fans forming a new club, SV Austria Salzburg.
Founded in 1933, the club won its first Austrian Bundesliga in 1994, which was the first of three in the space of four seasons which also saw them reach the 1994 UEFA Cup Final. The team currently has eight league titles to its name.
FC Red Bull Salzburg was founded on 13 September 1933 as SV Austria Salzburg, after the merger of the city's two clubs, Hertha and Rapid. In 1950, the club was dissolved but re-founded later the same year. It reached the Austrian top flight in 1953, and finished 9th of 14 clubs in its first season there, avoiding relegation by five points.Vienna-born Erich Probst was Salzburg's first-ever international, earning the last of his 19 Austrian caps on 27 March 1960.Adolf Macek, who made the first of his four international appearances on 9 October 1965, was the club's first local player to earn a cap for Austria.
Salzburg were top-flight runners-up for the first time in the 1970–71 season, gaining 43 points to Wacker Innsbruck's 44. The club's first-ever European campaign was in the 1971-72 UEFA Cup, and it was eliminated 5–4 on aggregate by Romanian club UTA despite a 3–1 home victory in the second leg. In 1974, Salzburg reached the Austrian Cup final for the first time, and lost 2–1 away to Austria Vienna in the first leg before a 1–1 home draw in the second.
Salzburg moved to their current stadium, now known as the Red Bull Arena in 2003
In 1978, the official name was changed to SV Casino Salzburg and in 1997, to SV Wüstenrot Salzburg, due to a sponsorship deal with an Austrian financial services corporation. The team often remained referred to as SV Austria Salzburg. During the Casino era, Salzburg reached their first and so far only European final, the 1994 UEFA Cup Final, where they lost both legs 1–0 to Italian club Inter Milan. That same season, Salzburg won their first Bundesliga title, beating Austria Vienna by 51 points to 49. The title was retained the following season as Salzburg beat Sturm Graz on goal difference. The 1995–96 season saw a drop to eighth place, one above a relegation play-off, but the club's third title in four seasons was won in 1997 as they beat holders Rapid Vienna by three points.
Salzburg's inaugural UEFA Champions League campaign in 1994–95 saw them reach the group stage by beating Israel's Maccabi Haifa 5–2 on aggregate. They were drawn into Group D with holders and eventual finalists AC Milan and eventual winners Ajax Amsterdam, as well as AEK Athens. Despite drawing both matches with Ajax, Salzburg picked up a solitary 3–1 win away in Athens and were eliminated in third place.
Due to UEFA regulations, Red Bull Salzburg use a modified crest and the name "FC Salzburg" when playing European matches.
The Red Bull company bought the club on 6 April 2005 and rebranded it. After the takeover, Red Bull changed the club's name, management, and staff, declaring "this is a new club with no history." Red Bull initially claimed on the club website that the club was founded in 2005, but was ordered to remove this claim by the Austrian F.A. The new authority removed all trace of violet from the club logo and the team now play in the colours of red and white, to the consternation of much of the club's traditional support. A small pair of wings form the motif of the new club crest, displayed on the team jersey, in accordance with Red Bull's commercial slogan at the time: "gives you wings." This complete re-branding of the team proved very similar to Red Bull's treatment of its two Formula One racing teams, Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. However, Red Bull would not completely follow this precedent when it acquired the MetroStars club in Major League Soccer in the United States; while it rebranded the team as the New York Red Bulls, it chose to recognise the MetroStars' history.
Red Bull Salzburg, October 2005
The traditional supporters tried to resist the radical changes and formed their own movement in order to regain some of the tradition. Several fan-clubs throughout Europe voiced their support in what they saw as a fight against the growing commercialisation of football. However, after five months of protests and talks between the club owners and traditional fans, no compromise was reached. On 15 September 2005, the 'violet' supporters stated that the talks had irreversibly broken down and efforts to reach an agreement would be terminated.
This gave rise to two separate fan groups: the 'Red-Whites', who support 'Red Bull Salzburg' and the 'Violet-Whites', who want to preserve the 72-year-old tradition and refuse to support the rebranded club. The Violet-Whites ultimately formed a new club, SV Austria Salzburg.
In May 2006, Red Bull announced on their website that they had hired veteran Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni, together with his former player, German World Cup winner Lothar Matthäus, as co-trainers. The pair initially denied having reached a deal, but officially signed on 23 May 2006. Red Bull ultimately won the 2006–07 T-Mobile Bundesliga by a comfortable margin with five games still left in the season after drawing 2–2 with previous season's champions Austria Wien on 28 April 2007.
After the 2011–12 season Moniz departed his post despite having a year remaining on his contract. The new coach for the 2012–13 season was Roger Schmidt, who came from Paderborn of the German 2. Bundesliga. In July 2012, Red Bull were knocked out of the Champions League in the second qualifying round against F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg, losing the first leg was lost 1–0 away, followed by a 4–3 home win which saw the club eliminated on away goals.
After that, the team was changed fundamentally. At the end of the transfer period new players were bought (Valon Berisha, Kevin Kampl, Håvard Nielsen, Sadio Mané, Isaac Vorsah, Rodnei). In the 2012–13 season the team finished second in the league behind champion FK Austria Wien. They recaptured the league title the following season, with an 11-point margin over the runners-up.