STUTTGART: Season ticket holders in the Bundesliga must forget about the past years or even decades next season.
Entry is by no means guaranteed, the usual seat or standing area may not be used at all, and discussing the game with the familiar neighbour will probably also not be possible.
Season ticket holders are still to be given priority but the decision who will be the lucky ones in the planned return of spectators amid the coronavirus crisis will be an immensely complicated affair for the clubs.
The clubs are slowly releasing how they want to manage this but it is already clear there can’t be a fair solution for everyone because full stadiums are not possible when the league starts on Sept 18.
Cologne drew huge criticism when they announced that those who waived their refund right for last season would be served first, and if that number still exceeded the number of available seats lots would be drawn.
Outraged fans spoke of blackmail and the plan was deemed highly consumer-unfriendly because those with more money in their pockets could have easier access.
It is not even clear how many fans each club can allow in as that decision lies with local health authorities based on the then state of the pandemic there.
“I have a little bit of hope that we can allow all season ticket holders into the stadium. That would spare us a big concern of what selection process we would have to apply,” Mainz chairman Stefan Hofmann has told broadcasters SWR.
Mainz sold some 13,000 season tickets for the past season but others like Borussia Dortmund and champions Bayern Munich have many more.
The German Football League believes that demand will by far exceed availability, at least in the beginning. It has advised clubs to create “fair conditions” which are transparent and can be understood by all fans.
Cologne spokesman Tobias Kaufmann meanwhile insists it would be unfair if “a fan who has waived his refund right and taken a financial risk can’t get into the stadium while someone else is lucky.”
This is however disputed by consumer organizations which say that all season ticket holders must have identical rights, or at least that those who agree not to go to games in the near future don’t lose their overall rights for a season ticket.
Ticket income is welcomed by all clubs as fixed income they can plan with, even though the €520.1 million (RM2.53 billion) from 2018-19 makes up just 12.9% of all income. Season tickets make up almost 60% of the average Bundesliga attendance of 42,738 in that campaign.
Borussia Moenchengladbach have chosen to sell season tickets only for the second half of the 2020-21 season at half the price of a full season, regardless whether they then play eight or nine games at home.
Others like Munich, Dortmund, Hoffenheim and promoted VfB Stuttgart are so far not selling any season tickets because of the uncertainties.
Munich have said that the most loyal fans will have priority, with the drawing of lots also possible. Dortmund are still in talks with fans on how to distribute tickets.
The issue is also very sensitive and difficult among the fans. Some ultras opposed the games behind closed doors to end the previous season, and have also said they would not attend as long as full stadiums weren’t allowed.
But there is no consensus, according to spokesman Rainer Vollmer from the “Our Curve” group which brings together various fan groups.
“There is no fair solution,” he said. “Every club has its individual solution, that makes the whole thing inscrutable. There many questions which in my opinion can’t be solved.” – dpa