By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Bundesliga Round One: The comprehensive "fan plans" across Germany

Day Three of Germany's "Post-Geisterpiel-Era" dawns. As expected, the developments continue to come fast and furious. Since the Bundesrepublik federally sanctioned national standards for the return of fans to stadiums on Tuesday, all 18 Bundesliga clubs have been operating in overdrive mode with respect to efforts to reopen their venues.

Insofar as is possible in this rapidly shifting landscape, we'll take a look at the comprehensive fan plans across Germany prior to kickoff.

Friday, September 18th

FC Schalke 04 (at) FC Bayern München (Geisterpiel)
In a perfect illustration of how quickly matters can change, Munich's mayor and Bayern's governor called off plans for the admission of 7,500 spectators within a short span of less than 24 hours. The 58th Bundesliga season will begin with a Geisterpiel after all.

The manner in which this unfolded is crucial as it shows how the system is ideally supposed to work. If a German region exceeds the Robert Koch Institute's recommended data-driven stabilizer. If, in any German region, the running seven-day-average of COVID infections rises above 35 per 100,000 inhabitants, restrictions can be reinstated.

That's precisely what occurred here, and may occur in other regions.

Saturday, September 19th

Armenia Bielefeld (at) Eintracht Frankfurt (6,500 spectators)
The SGE will proceed with its plan to allow 6,500 spectators into the newly re-named Deutsche Bank Park. This constitutes approximately 12.6 percent of the stadium's capacity. Plans to take full advantage of the 20-percent-rule were discussed, but eventually ruled out.

FC Augsburg  (at) 1. FC Union Berlin (4,300 spectators)
After the successful experiment involving 4,500 fans at a pre-season friendly, Eisern Union will implement the exact same model on Saturday. A slight reduction from the previous fixture was announced in order to bring the club in line with the federal standards. The Stadion an der alten Försterei seats only 22,012 spectators.

A crowd of 4,300 brings a Köpenick audience in just under the line at 19.6 percent capacity, whereas 4,500 would be slightly over at 20.4.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) 1. FC Köln (9,200 spectators)
The Geißböcke shoot for the upper limit of fans. Germany's Cathedral City Club can host up to 50,000 in the RheinEnergieStadium. When the club initially announced their concept last weekend, specific numbers were not given. The club spoke of a target "between 5,000 and 10,000" live spectators.

The number announced today puts the club's venue capacity at 19.8 percent. In other words, Köln goes so far as the law allows.

Hertha BSC (at) SV Werder Bremen (8,500 spectators)
The Hanseaten revealed their concept on Sunday. As with many things emanating from the city-state of Bremen, the plan was meticulously crafted in close conjunction with the city's technocratic political establishment.

The target 8,500 audience hits the Weserstadion's 20-percent-capacity permission directly on the nose. This shouldn't surprise many Germans.

SC Freiburg (at) VfB Stuttgart (8,000 spectators)
The Swabians had no concrete plans to let fans in this weekend until Tuesday's bombshell announcement. Today, they were one of two clubs to take immediate advantage of the new privileges. Chairman Thomas Hitzlsperger, fresh off attending his club's fan-attended Pokal match in Rostock, cobbled together a symbolic package for his supporters in less than 48 hours.

Eight thousands tickets priced at €18,93 went on sale today. The price reflects the year of the club's founding. Hitzlsperger, himself a popular former German national team star, called the pricing a "small symbol of unity."

Stuttgart's Mercedes-Benz-Arena actually seats upwards of 60,500. The target audience thus clocks in at 13.2 percent. Hitzlsperger explained that the opportunity simply came too fast for the VfB to take full advantage.

"Here, care clearly comes before speed," he explained. The Badeners plan to welcome 12,000 supporters for their next home fixture against Leverkusen on October 3rd.

Borussia Mönchengladbach (at) Borussia Dortmund (10,000 spectators)
The biggest game of the weekend should also feature the biggest crowd. The BVB are the other club, along with Stuttgart, to quickly cobble together a concept once the Bundesrepublik accorded nationwide privileges. Amazingly enough, they were even able to devise a system that will allow in some of their more far-flung fans.

Signal-Iduna-Park seats 81,365, meaning the Schwarzgelben are aiming for about 12.3 capacity. One of the problems with Dortmund is that many season-pass holders are scattered about NordRhein-Westphalia. For safety reasons, 7,500 of the entrants must be residents of Dortmund. The remaining 2,500 can come from the surrounding townships.

This brings up the rather thorny issue of "traveling fans", who are expressly forbidden under the current statutes. In the strictest sense, Dortmund isn't violating any of the agreed upon standards with its concept. It does, however, slightly stretch/test the limits of what is presently possible.

Sunday, September 20th

FSV Mainz 05 (at) RasenBallSport Leipzig (8,500 spectators)
Leipzig were the first Bundesliga club to announce that they would allow fans back into the stadium. They've been working and refining their concept since September 1st. The initial target number puts Red Bull Arena at 19.7 percent capacity, meaning no further tailoring of the plan was necessary.

Leipzig's also toyed with the idea of expanding its pool of eligible fans well beyond the city. Many East German fans flock to Leipzig to watch higher profile matches as their hometown clubs often play in the lower divisions. In the end, anyone beyond Saxony was excluded from gaining access to a ticket.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (at) VfL Wolfsburg (500 spectators)
Wolfsburg are the last of the remaining three clubs given the opportunity to radically shift their plans in light of the new Federal privileges. Again, one must emphasize the rapidly changing nature of events in the Bundesrepublik. An increase in the number of fans allowed into the weekend's final encounter could yet be announced.

One nevertheless conjectures that the Wolfsburg administrative apparatus has been somewhat preoccupied with coordinating cross-continental travel this week and not necessarily capable tackling such a large undertaking.

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