By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Bundesliga Fan Scene: The nationwide "plans for fans" on Matchday 16

The state of the German footballing fan scene ahead of 2021's penultimate round promises more color than the weekend's matchday.

Only two of the nine fixtures will take place without live spectators. The country's footballing hotbed of Nordrhein-Westfalen hosts four fixtures, all which are expected to be reasonably well attended.

We're here for you on Bulinews with the full pre-matchday report, inclusive all the latest local public health data culled from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)
After having a look at the weekend attendance figures yesterday, it's already time to turn around and take a look at the German Bundesliga's "plans for fans" during the midweek round. The German states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, and Saxony will only be hosting two matches between them during this round. As a result, seven of the nine fixtures scheduled to take place this round will feature a significant number of live spectators.

That's one piece of good news. Another concerns the fact that the Bundesrepublik's "2G+" regulation should soon be a thing of the past. Bavarian governor Markus Söder (CSU) announced today that citizens who have received their initial vaccine dose/s plus their booster shot will no longer have to obtain a negative PCR test in order to gain access to public life. Other states and the federal government should soon follow suit.

For readers in country's where most COVID-related restrictions have long been done away with, that might not seem like a particularly earth-shattering piece of news. In the German context, however, it counts for a lot. The added restriction had the most unfortunate effect of asking more of those who followed the prescriptions under which they were promised their civil liberties back. It did the government no favors in its quest to boost inoculation rates.

With a more coherent policy in place, it now seems more likely that the Bundesrepublik can reach its vaccination targets without implementing a vaccine mandate for all citizens. As we'll now examine in greater detail through coverage of Germany's nine hoisting Bundesliga locales, local public health metrics are all largely headed in the right direction.

FC Bayern München (at) VfB Stuttgart

Planned capacity = Geisterspiel 

The BaWü regulations will actually permit some 750 visitors. How they are chosen remains a mystery. For all most of us know, it amounts to connected corporate individuals receiving a few free passes. The club itself will be hosting a vaccine drive at the Mercedes Benz Arena on the matchday and will also open up the venue for a national inoculation drive scheduled to take place both on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Stuttgart being the founding city of the "Querdenke movement", the municipality itself and the state in which it resides counts as one of the most important battle grounds in the fight to get as many citizens as possible protected. So many hearts and minds need to be won in this part of Germany. One hopes that perspectives can be shifted outside of the intensive care wards.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 539.7 per 100,000 (+124.2)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 86.5 (-3.9%)

54 COVID Hospitalizations (24.8%) (-4.0%)

BaWü Vaccination Rate =  70.1% (+0.1%) (from yesterday)

FC Köln (at) VfL Wolfsburg

Planned capacity =  5,000 (16.67%)

The site of one of the round's most important footballing duels will feature only a small number of live spectators. It's quite possible that the locals won't even drive this modest allotment to a sell-out either. Not given the form that their team is in. While there can continue to be legitimate sympathy for Wolfsburg being forced to operate under state-level restrictions that don't necessarily apply to their small and rarely visited town, sympathy runs out for the actual team on the pitch. The squad has few excuses to fall back on.

In a sense, it's even good news that a small town like this one has to close down in accordance with Lower Saxony's "alarm level" regulations. Although the local situation produces no real imminent threat, a small contagion cluster could still tip the scales quickly in the company town. Pushing ones luck with hospital occupancy never constitutes a good idea, irrespective of tale the latest numbers tell. Playing it safe at this stage shouldn't be frowned upon.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 215.6 per 100,000 (+37.1)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 48.1% (-0.3%)

6 COVID Hospitalizations (19.3%) (+3.2%)

Lower Saxony Vaccination Rate = 74.6% (even) (from yesterday)

Hertha BSC (at) FSV Mainz 05

Planned capacity = 10,000 (29.3%)

The Nullfünfter opted to self-regulate, lowering their capacity numbers below that which current law in the Palatinate permits. The club officially shut down any further ticket sales to the general public earlier this morning. This still translates to a sell out only if the season ticket holders who exercised their right to access actually opt to show up. We shall see if they do.

Rural areas in the Pfalz continue to exhibit incidence rate declines and their are plenty of free beds in local hospital's. The situation in the state's capital looks a bit more dire in large part because, it is reported, that Mainz hospitals are taking in a few more patients from the surrounding provincial districts. The city's current intensive care occupancy rate, pushed to the absolute limit, likely heralds a stop to that practice.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 203.6 per 100,000 (-27.6)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 97.2% (+5.3%)

16 COVID Hospitalizations (15.4%) (-1.1%)

Rheinland-Pfalz Vaccination Rate = 73.7% (+0.4%) (from six days ago)

VfL Bochum (at) Arminia Bielefeld

Planned capacity = 13,650 (50%)

Despite some jawboning to the contrary, outdoor venues in Nordrhein-Westfalen are still permitted to operate at 50-percent capacity with a hard cap of 15,000 spectators. As we saw two rounds back in Bielefeld, that doesn't automatically mean that local patrons will be coming out in droves to attend the football match. Only a little over 8,000 supporters went to the Alm last time.

A quick check on the club's website confirms that there remain several thousand tickets still available for this evening's fixtures. Attendance at the final home fixture of the calendar year should still be a bit higher this close to the holidays. The match itself serves as a light "Graue Maus" derby between two Westphalian clubs.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 305.5 per 100,000 (+2.7)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 85.0% (-2.86%)

19 COVID Hospitalizations (16.0%) (+4.3%)

NRW Vaccination Rate = 76.5% (even) (from yesterday)

Eintracht Frankfurt (at) Borussia Mönchengladbach

Planned capacity = 15,000 (27.7%)

Another NRW club permitted to allow in a comparatively large crowd may only end up letting a few thousand through the turnstiles. The club's website still has loads of space available in Borussia Park as of this morning. Hometown fans surely still smart from that 0-6 shellacking against Freiburg from round 14. That's a pretty bad burn for the locals.

The local public health metrics continue to look remarkably good for a town resting on another nation's open border. The incidence rate flirts with that 100 per 100,000 level that once served as the "hot-spot" threshold during the third wave of the pandemic, when vaccines were only partially available. There we have an undeniably encouraging piece of data from somewhere.

Local RKI Incidence Rate =  130.2 per 100,000 (-26.2)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 89.7% (-4.7%)

17 COVID Hospitalizations (20.2%) (+1.2%)

NRW Vaccination Rate = 76.5% (even) (from yesterday)

SpVgg Greuther Fürth (at) Borussia Dortmund

Planned capacity = 15,000 (18.4%)

We'll very likely behold a sizable crowd at Signal Iduna. The obvious "strength of the opponent" factor might still preclude the match from selling out. The club's website still has several thousand places available as of this morning. BVB season ticket holders aren't terribly interested in dealing with the hassle and the general public can only take so many purchase-and-refund cycles.

The Schwarzgelben, along with "Eisern Union Berlin" of Köpenick, host the league's best Christmas concerts; or at least they used to before the world forever changed that fateful spring nearly two years ago. Normal times will resume eventually. When they do, everyone should definitely check out the 81,365-strong Christmas choir that packs Signal Iduna to sing on a non-matchday during this time of year.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 288.4 per 100,000 (+0.5)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 93.6 (+1.7%)

24 COVID Hospitalizations (8.1%) (+1.1%)

NRW Vaccination Rate = 76.5% (even) (from yesterday)

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Planned capacity = 15,000  (49.7%)

Attendance figures in the town of Germany's red company team came in rather low last time and there's no real reason to think that they won't again. Plenty of seats remain available at the BayArena. The opponent will interest few of the locals. The current form of the team might also scare a few more away.

Local public health metrics appear to be in good shape. This town saw several outbreaks during various phases of the pandemic. The worst appears far behind the city under the "Bayer cross". Somewhat ironic that the big pharmaceutical hub ended up being a case study in "herd immunity".

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 280.7 per 100,000 (-43.3)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 87.0 (-1.4%)

12 COVID Hospitalizations (20.0%) (-3.0%)

NRW Vaccination Rate = 76.5% (even) (from yesterday)

SC Freiburg (at) FC Union Berlin

Planned capacity = 5,000  (27.2%)

Not much new to report here other than the fact that it should be a fun evening at the Stadion An der alten Försterei in Köpenick. A fixture like this--between two cult teams--would naturally be a lot more fun with a packed house and dueling fan sections. For now, an excellent match-up between two surprise Champions' League contenders will simply have to suffice. Definitely one to circle in any case.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 307.8 per 100,000 (-1.9)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 89.7% (stable)

256 COVID Hospitalizations (24.7%) (stable)

Berlin City Vaccination Rate = 73.9% (+0.1%) (from yesterday)

RB Leipzig (at) FC Augsburg

Planned capacity =  Geisterspiel

When it comes to public health metrics, both Augsburg and Munich provide very encouraging evidence that the measures taken did indeed avert a catastrophe. Not long ago, both Bavarian cities were flirting incidence rates that threatened to break above the 1,000 mark. Think what one will about the state's governor Markus Söder, the premier probably earned the grin on his face today when he promised to roll back restrictions. In the end, he did it right.

Local RKI Incidence Rate = 316.1 per 100,000 (-91.6)

Intensive Care Occupancy @ 93.2% (-0.7%)

40 COVID Hospitalizations (29.0%) (-2.2%)

Bavaria Vaccination Rate = 70.2% (+0.1%) (from yesterday)

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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