It's now officially been ten days since Germany's federal government sanctioned a nationwide return of fans to stadiums under proscribed conditions.
Unlike last week, when clubs hosting fixtures in the Bundesliga's opening round scrambled to put plans into place before the weekend and, in several notable instances, had to reverse themselves, all clubs are currently proceeding with ambitious plans. No ghost games are scheduled.
The concepts themselves still differ. Federal approval of a 20-percent-capacity caps do not preclude localized laws from taking precedence in a constitutional republic.
Just as we did last week, we'll take a look at what the nine hosting clubs are planning. Here's what it looks like for Round Two:
Friday, September 25th
Eintracht Frankfurt (at) Hertha BSC (4,000 spectators)
Hertha were among the first clubs to announce that they would allow supporters back through the turnstiles. Early talk left open the possibility of between 5,000 and 10,000 fans. When the 20-percent-capacity upper limit was initially announced, there was some discussion of allowing in nearly 15,000.
Germany's capital clamped down however, extending a protective ordinance that limits crowds at open air events to 5,000 or less. The Olympiastadion will thus operate at roughly 5.3 percent capacity for die alte Dame's opening match.
Note that Berlin's ordinance will ultimately mean that the capital's other top-tier Bundesliga club, 1. FC Union Berlin, will not be able to carry out its plans for a full capacity crowd on October 25th if it is still in effect. This is a development to keep an eye on.
Saturday, September 26th
1. FC Köln (at) Arminia Bielefeld (5,400 spectators)
Bielefeld wasted zero time in coming up with a plan to fill their stands as soon as nationwide clearance was given. This remains a severely over-leveraged club with a newly rebuilt stadium. The COVID-crisis seriously threatens to sink organizations like this.
As a testament to how crucial football fandom is in this part of Nordrhein-Westphalia, it was actually mostly the Bielefeld fans who financed the renovations via low-interest bond yields. Many of these same fans forgave the club and forewent their yields when the bond came due.
The old Bielefelder Alm (or Schüco-Arena after the club sold off the naming rights to the venue fans paid to refurbish) seats just over 26,000. Bielefeld thus goes for the full 20 percent capacity.
There not being much going on in Bielefeld, the club's online ticket portal crashed within minutes of the match passes going on sale. Over 100,000 locals applied for passes, overwhelming the server. The club also reported some traffic from foreign hackers.
The club had to revise its allocation system, ditching "first come first served" for a lottery. In the end, 74 percent of allocated tickets were raffled off to season ticket holders with the rest going to sponsors, elderly, disabled, and one of the club's youth fan societies.
1. FC Union Berlin (at) Borussia Mönchengladbach (10,804 spectators)
Gladbach earned some press for being the first German Bundesliga club to employ cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands during the "Geisterpiel Era". This piece of kitsch evidently got rather old rather quickly. Like their Eastern neighbors Bielefeld, they took immediate advantage of the federal decree and began making plans to take advantage of the full 20-percent-cap.
Since Gladbach's park actually officially holds 54,022, the arithmetic yields the telling number of 19.999 percent capacity. Stricter mask requirements and tighter restrictions on groups may be one reason why fans didn't exactly lunge at the chance to grab their pass. Even after offering entrance to all season ticket holders, the club reported that the match was far from sold out.
Club members and then newly registered fans were then offered a chance, and there were still admission slots left. Another reason for this may be how hard the area was initially hit in the early stages of the pandemic. At present, the seven-day-running average of new infections stands at a very low 8 per 100,000 inhabitants.
RasenBallSport Leipzig (at) Bayer 04 Leverkusen (6,000 spectators)
Die Werkself aim for 19.8 percent capacity at the BayArena. Needless to say, a team owned by a pharmaceutical company had little difficulty putting together a hygiene concept quickly.
No major issues have been reported with regard to ticket allocation and low infection rates should allow the match to proceed with live fans.
Borussia Dortmund (at) FC Augsburg (6,000 spectators)
The Fuggerstädter play in an arena with roughly the same capacity as Leverkusen, and thereby also aim for about 19.8 percent capacity. Augsburg have earned plaudits in the German press for offering entrance to their season ticket holders at reduced prices, much like Stuttgart did last week. Eighty-Five percent of the passes, a high number compared with most other clubs, are also reserved for season ticket holders.
Local infection rates are well below then RKI stabilizer and the match should proceed with live fans.
VfB Stuttgart (at) FSV Mainz 05 (3,400 spectators)
This fixture in itself should prove very interesting as the hosting club must somehow pull itself together in front of a 10.2 percent capacity crowd.
Infection rates in this part of the Pfalz are somewhat unstable, with a few surrounding regions reporting 25 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. Hence, the lower target.
SV Werder Bremen (at) FC Schalke 04 (12,454 spectators)
Tickets went on sale Thursday to fill the Veltins Arena to 19.99 percent capacity. It remains conceivable, however, that plans to allow anyone into this match will be called off, much as was the case in Köln last weekend.
Local authorities are keeping a close eye on the seven-day-incident rate in Gelsenkirchen, which as of this writing stands at 30 per 100,000 inhabitants. The total has been sinking steadily since Monday. The club reports sales have been steady despite the region's (and Schalke's) current situation.
Sunday, September 27th
Bayern München (at) TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (6,030 spectators)
Dietmar Hopp's team aims for full 20 percent capacity. Officials near Sinsheim also keep an eye on their latest infection rates, which are in the teens.
This total has edged up a bit in recent days, but doesn't appear to be nearing the RKI Stabilizer.
VfL Wolfsburg (at) SC Freiburg (3,200 spectators)
The Schwarzwaldverein only aim for 13.2 percent capacity. Infection rates are closer to the lower 20s in the Breisgau region and have been increasing.
As with Bremen at Schalke, we may see plans to allow fans in canceled here.