Once upon a time, the season ticket was a constant in the life of a football fan.
If you wanted to get it, you had to struggle for a long time with some Bundesliga clubs, but then private life was oriented towards the coveted ticket every few days: When the club played in its own stadium, you went there, the most loyal of the loyal ones were almost always there.
Corona pandemic came in between
They came in midsummer, when it rained, when it came to the championship or relegation – until the corona virus struck them in March of last year. And now, in autumn 2021, the pandemic is still going on, but the spectators have long since returned to the arenas. But where are the season ticket holders?
The answer is complicated. In some stadiums, due to various corona regulations, they are not that easy to get back into. Other clubs such as FC Bayern Munich will activate their annual tickets again for the upcoming home game against SC Freiburg on Saturday, with 75,000 spectators the arena is said to be sold out for the first time since the beginning of 2020. And then there are clubs like Eintracht Frankfurt, where season ticket holders were allowed to go back in the last time, but didn’t necessarily want to. In the most recent home game against RB Leipzig, around 20,000 of them preferred to stay at home.
“The topic is much bigger than the ultra groups,” said Frankfurt’s board member Axel Hellmann most recently to the TV broadcaster Bild. While the ultra groupings of some clubs have not streamed into the arenas again in recent weeks in protest against the corona restrictions, the reasons for other regular stadium visitors could be deeper. There should also be concerns about the recent sharp rise in corona numbers and the increasing confusion about a patchwork of rules. Because there is no uniform guideline for the admission of spectators in the Bundesliga and 2nd league.
While some clubs are relying on the 2G model, Borussia Dortmund, among others, recently switched back to a 3G model. Fans who have tested negative for the corona virus are also allowed into the stadium. In the opinion of a majority of German citizens, however, only vaccinated and recovered fans should be allowed in. In a representative survey by the opinion research institute Yougov on behalf of the German Press Agency, 60 percent of those questioned were in favor of it. According to this, 29 percent of Germans would not find this right – which should include the ultras of most clubs.
Many clubs are faced with a dilemma as a result: In Baden-Württemberg, for example, the state government allows professional clubs such as VfB Stuttgart to use the stadium at full capacity only under 2G conditions. For the rest of the first half of the season, VfB had sold around 11,000 “long-term cards”, ie a ticket package for a certain number of games, by the end of October. Regular season ticket holders are also likely to have stayed away from the Swabians recently. Like other clubs, VfB is currently (still) struggling with cautious audience interest.
So it will be some time before “normality” returns to the German stadiums. If she returns at all. “Of course we hope that Bundesliga football will soon be part of people’s usual weekend routine again,” said Wolfsburg’s managing director Tim Schumacher. This routine once existed in a time before Corona. It remains to be seen whether it will be back soon.