By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Bundesliga Fan Scene: One of nine fixtures sells out in round 13

As COVID-related events and developments continue to affect the German footballing fan scene, know that we are tracking everything here at Bulinews.

Tomorrow, will once again publish a column on the comprehensive state of fan return across the country.

Today we shall review the attendance figures from last weekend, separating a portion of our reportage on German supporter scene from the highly complex state-level regulations affecting the future.

Three fixtures in round 13 reached maximum capacity, though Stuttgart and Wolfsburg had to refuse patrons who wished to attend.

That leaves Köln-Gladbach as the round's solitary sell out. Bochum and Fürth did nevertheless come close.
Entering the next round of Bundesliga football, the question on every German football fan's mind remains: Will there be spectators allowed in this weekend? The honest answer, inherently unsatisfying as it may be, is that we simply don't know yet. There has been political bluster across the Bundesrepublik about the reinstitution of "Geisterpiele" (spectator free ghost-games). Additionally, many German Bundesliga clubs are effectively preparing to shut the doors. 

What we can say for certain is that the return of "ghost games" is not a question of "if", but rather "when". They are coming, at the latest at the end of the calendar year. We will know a great deal more about how most Bundesliga clubs are planning to get down to zero fans as the coldest part of winter beckons tomorrow. We will be here for you with a full breakdown on Bulinews, just as we have been in the past. All of the developments across the country on both the state and federal level remain in our sights.

Last week, we merged the attendance figures from the previous round with our look ahead at the "plans for fans" heading into the next matchday. The resulting column, thoroughly detailed as it was, came in a little long for some readers merely seeking information about the next matchday. Accordingly, we've decided to once again separate the attendance figures from the previous round from the plans for the next. We will once again release a comprehensive column detailing the state of affairs across Germany tomorrow.

Today's column takes a look back at the weekend was; possibly the last German football weekend to feature significant crowds in 2021.

FSV Mainz 05 (at) VfB Stuttgart

Planned capacity = 25,000 (40%)

Attendance = 25,000 (self-imposed) 

Concept = 2G+

The Württembergers self-reduced their capacity cap ahead of any state regulations specifically requiring them to do so. The reason we cannot classify this match a sell-out relates to the fact that many fans who had purchased tickets were actually refunded and refused. The Swabians drew a crowd of well over 30,000 for their last home fixture and ostensibly would have done the same here.

Plenty of Mainzer fans would have liked to have travelled to this one. A small contingent in the stadium was visible during the Friday night fixture, though neither home nor away supporters made much noise amid a stadium-wide mask mandate. The much feted return of "Silas" at the tail end of the match got a few up out of their seats.

Borussia Dortmund (at) VfL Wolfsburg

Planned capacity = 13,281 (50%)

Attendance = 13,281 (self-imposed)

Concept = 2G

Once again, one can't properly classify this match as a sell-out seeing as how fans who wished to come were refused and refunded. If the fact that over 15,000 tickets were sold in the northern German Autostadt surprises, consider the fact that it was Dortmund. Germany's green company team attracts larger crowds when Bayern or the BVB come to town.

The maximum spectator allotment, not restricted by seated mask mandates, made a great deal of noise on Saturday. As everyone who had a chance to check out the broadcast feed knows by know, the WOB ultras engaged in plenty of collective obscene gestures directed at Erling Haaland after the Norwegian scored the decisive goal off the bench. So long as such passion doesn't lead to physical harm, one can commend it.

FC Augsburg (at) Hertha BSC

Planned capacity = 39,738 (50%)

Attendance = 13,281 (33.4%)

Concept = 2G

What proved to be Pal Dardai's final match in charge of "die alte Dame" was a wet and ragged affair taking place under a miserable Berlin sky. What supporters did attend whistled in loud disapproval of their team after an injury time scuffle left the team too unfocused to defend on a last-second equalizer. That's the bad news out of the country's capital.

The much better news out of Berlin concerns the fact that we may not see ghost games in the City State at all during this fourth wave. The Senate's special formula for outdoor events means that a lot is still taking place in "Dickes B". If the city's intensive care units don't fill up despite open-air events like football matches and Christmas Markets operating, there may be no reason to reverse course.

Borussia Mönchengladbach (at) 1. FC Köln

Planned capacity = 50,000 (100%)

Attendance = 50,000 (sold out)

Concept = 2G

German football lovers had no choice but to tap this encounter as the "match of the week". The RheinEnergie crowd was simply that fantastic. Hometown hero Mark Uth classily credited the victory to them. As we've often pointed out when discussing Köln, the Effzeh were the first Bundesliga club to adopt the more restrictive "2G" approach.

This didn't affect attendance one iota. On the contrary, Köln have sold out more league fixtures than any other top tier side this year. The Domstädter also remain (along with FC Union Berlin) one of the clubs that has always made vaccinations available at the stadium on match days. Other clubs have done so on limited occasions.

SC Freiburg (at) VfL Bochum

Planned capacity = 20,000 (72%)

Attendance = 19,700 (98.5%)

Concept = 2G

Another great match, after which the scorer of the game-winning-goal credited the FanKurve with their role in the victory. It's frankly great to see the Castrop full of so much life this year. The 1848ers have some of the most diehard football devotees in the country. Naturally, one could say the same of most NRW clubs.

As the regulations concerning North-Rhine Westphalia go, so goes the Bundesliga fan scene. We'll obviously be keeping the closest eye on state policy in the Germany's footballing hotbed and report upon it first in our next column. If the home of six Bundesliga clubs shutters its doors, there might hardly be a fan scene with reporting on at all.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) SpVgg Greuther Fürth 

Planned capacity = 4,625 (25%)

Attendance = 3,385 (98.5%)

Concept = 2G+

Despite the most restrictive partial-spectator policies in the country, several thousand vaccinated Bavarians (who also had to pay for their own negative COVID test) came out to watch the league's winless last-placed team. That's truly something. The Fürth fans even sang "Nehme mir nicht mit nach Hause" (English football fans will recognize the tune of the footballing anthem "Please don't take me home") during the first half.

Their team may not have won, but at least the Kleeblätter faithful got their money's worth in the form of nine-goals in this absolutely crazy match. Bavarian premier Markus Söder (CSU) has announced that he's moving the state to Geisterpiele at the latest be the end of the year. Unfortunately, it looks as if our Franconian choir is getting taken home whether they like it or not.

DSC Arminia Bielefeld (at) FC Bayern München

Planned capacity = 18,745 (25%)

Attendance = 12,000 (64%)

Concept = 2G+

So. Intolerably. Sad. We were packing 75,000 fans into the Allianz less than three weeks ago. Now a cautious population (understandably) isn't sure that it's worth it to pay for a PCR test to watch their team. Earlier this autumn, Thomas Müller waved around the "Wieder dahoam" banner in front of the Tribune. Now we all have to listen to Müller's chatter on the pitch again. Not the worst thing in the world, but still not the fairest trade-off.

FC Union Berlin (at) Eintracht Frankfurt

Planned capacity = 40,000 (78%)

Attendance = 24,000 (60%)

Concept = 2G/3G

Self-restraint from the Hessen population. SGE fans had the distinction of being the only fan base left in the country allowed to enter the stadium if they were unvaccinated. No reliable statistics on how many unvaccinated fans actually attended the match exists, but one should reiterate that only a small portion of seats were reserved for the "3G" contingent anyway.

The atmosphere at the Deutsche Bank Park on Sunday could almost be described as ghoulish. One didn't hear too much from the spectators in attendance. This was mostly due to the fact that the majority of Eintracht's ultra groups have gone back into full boycott mode. Even the last-second goal didn't cause much of a stir.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (at) RB Leipzig

Planned capacity = Geisterspiel

Attendance = Giesterspiel

Concept = N/A

And here we have the historic first game of Germany's third "Geisterspiele Era". It will be far from the last. Visiting keeper Lukas Hradecky more or less summed it up during his post-match interview. Here we go yet again. A fan-less football weekend in the Bundesrepublik looks to be just around the corner.

Thanks so much for reading!

You can occasionally catch Peter on twitter, @ViceytheSS.

Twitter DMs are open for football conversations, corrections, and (if you truly insist) general abuse. 

All columns debut on Bulinews before appearing on Peter's website later in the week.

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