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Bundesliga clubs agree on guidelines for safe spectator return

Weston McKennie of Schalke 04 celebrates in front of fans after scoring his team's first goal during the Bundesliga match versus TSG 1899 Hoffenheim earlier in the 2019-20 season (by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

The German Football League (DFL) has agreed on a set of guidelines for the possible return of spectators to stadiums for Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga matches.

The Bundesliga became the first major league in Europe to resume closed-door games following the coronavirus shutdown, and now looks to be leading the way with the plans to partially allow fans back into venues.

The measures, announced after a virtual Extraordinary Members Assembly of the 36 clubs in the two league, will prohibit away fans from attending matches until the end of the year to reduce the number of people travelling across Germany.

League statutes require all clubs to provide at least ten per cent of their stadium capacity to visiting fans but these have been amended temporarily.

The DFL said in a statement: “There is no question that fans travelling to away games represent an integral part of German football culture and one that should categorically be preserved. However, if spectators are allowed to return to stadiums during the relevant period, the professional clubs will not be selling tickets to fans of visiting teams for Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 matches until the end of the year.”

The league organisers said the new temporary measures will also prohibit fans from gathering in standing areas until October 31 “to enable match day processes to be adapted to entirely new requirements for spectator areas gradually”. This will include reconfiguring these areas for social distancing and hygiene requirements and the development of methods to monitor compliance.

Clubs also agreed not to sell alcohol at their home games until October 31. The sale of alcoholic drinks is only possible with the permission of local authorities in Germany, but clubs have voluntarily agreed not to apply for the special licenses from these authorities until after that date.

Finally, the teams agreed to implement strict track and trace regimes to determine the identities and contact details of anyone thought to potentially be infected with Covid-19. The DFL said clubs would be responsible for implementing their own “location-specific” track and trace concepts and would be expected to submit detailed plans about these measures.

Germany has fared better than many countries during the pandemic, registering a relatively low number of deaths per capita. However, the head of the country’s doctors’ union Susanne Johna recently warned of a “second, shallow upswing” of cases.

The UK government also recently announced proposals to allow limited numbers spectators back into a handful of pilot sports events to test the safety of a more widespread return. But these plans were abandoned after the country experienced a spike in Covid-19 infection rates.

The executive committee of the German Football Association (DFB) has now approved a new overall schedule for the 2020-21 season owing to the delay of the 2019-20 season. The Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga are scheduled to resume on 21 September and the fixture list for the new season will be announced on August 7.

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