By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Six of nine Bundesliga fixtures sell out in week three

In terms of footballing attendance, one European League once always stood head and shoulders above the rest. Germany's Bundesliga reliably bested all other competitors for well over a decade before the onset of the global pandemic.

As the Bundesrepublik slowly eases restrictions on its way out of the COVID thicket, the return of crowds the nation's footballing temples proceeds gradually.

In our continuing set of articles on this subject, we'll take a look at the current state of affairs via examination of the attendance figures at all nine fixtures this weekend.
Our latest check-in with the state of fan re-entry in Germany's famed footballing cathedrals shows that hesitance to return to the stadium is waning. Six of the nine fixtures in the third round of the 2021/22 Bundesliga campaign sold out. At the present time, Augsburg are the only remaining club that hasn't taken full advantage of a federal rule allowing 50 percent stadium capacity (with a cap of 25,000) to clubs with the proper seating accommodations.

In perhaps the most relevant development on the Bundesliga fan scene, VfL Wolfsburg became the second club to announce that they would close their doors to attendees not able to demonstrate proof of either vaccination or recovery. The general political trend in the Bundesrepublik seems to point towards the use of this rule at all public events. Vaccination rates nevertheless remain stalled.

Wolfsburg, Mainz, and Augsburg were the three top-tier clubs unable to sell out their fixtures in round three. Reasons associated therewith differ in each individual case. Stuttgart and Köln were the two clubs who achieved the largest improvements in audience size from the initial fixtures they hosted in round one.

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (at) Borussia Dortmund

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 25,000

Planned capacity = 25,000

Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)

Die Schwarzgelben sold out their third consecutive match under the floodlights. While it did take some time for the BVB to get their season ticket holders to trust their right of return in the first round, passes were quickly snatched up for both the DFL Super Cup and this fixture. One can assume that club should have no problems getting fans from all around Nordrehein-westfalen (and indeed other countries) to come to Signal-Iduna Park.

It's worth noting that the COVID incidence rate remains significantly higher than any other region in Germany. It will remain so throughout the autumn in the Bundesrepublik's densely packed industrial heartland. As we saw with the case of Leverkusen last week, contagion can spread rapidly. It can't be ruled out that some conflict with local officials might take place.

Dortmund Maximum Stadium Capacity = 81,365

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 152.1 per 100,000

SC Freiburg (at) VfB Stuttgart

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 25,000

Planned capacity = 25,000

Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)

After coming in well short of their (reduced) expectations in their round one fixture, the Württemberg Swabians went for the full allotment this time and got it. A relatively large traveling contingent of SC Freiburg supporters helped out significantly. Freiburg-Stuttgart doesn't exactly qualify as the fiercest of Baden derbys, but the attendance figures certainly demonstrated the pent-up demand for some inter-regional trip among fans.

The incidence rate in this part of Germany rises, albeit very slowly. High vaccination rates might see it stabilize around current figures, which generally either increase or decrease by small deviations on a daily basis. Stuttgart continues to offer passes at a discount rate to many of its season-ticket holders.

Stuttgart Maximum Stadium Capacity = 60,449

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 97.1 per 100,000

SpVgg Greuther Fürth (at) FSV Mainz 05

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 17,000

Planned capacity = 17,000

Attendance = 11,500

The Rheinhessen were another Bundesliga club not quite prepared to take advantage of their full allotment on opening day. Logistical issues meant that there were only 13,500 tickets on sale for the round one match against Leipzig. The Nullfünfter made everything available this time, yet only 1,000 extra fans took advantage of the chance to see the team live. It's not entirely clear why the return has been sluggish.

One reason could relate to the other offerings of the region at this time of year. Under normal circumstances, most Pfälzer prefer to take advantage of the kind weather and attend wine festivals through the end of September. Circumstances hardly being normal, there could also be some reticence related to the local incidence rate and supporter distrust shifting local regulations.

Mainz Maximum Stadium Capacity = 34,000

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 102.1 per 100,000

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (at) FC Augsburg

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 15,330

Planned capacity = 12,500

Attendance = 10,582

The Fuggerstädter are another Bundesliga club not yet logistically prepared to take advantage of their full allotment. Planned capacity for this game was increased by some 1,800 seats. Although some 1,400 more supporters came this time, the match came in well short of a sell-out. This counts as something of a surprise.

The club celebrating ten years in the Bundesliga is generally well supported and the local incidence rate is practically negligible. Perhaps there remains some confusion about the allowance tules. In any event, matters proceed slowly in this sleepy section of Bavaria.

Augsburg Maximum Stadium Capacity = 30,660

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 55.3 per 100,000

Eintracht Frankfurt (at) Arminia Bielefeld

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 13,750

Planned capacity = 13,750

Attendance = 13,750 (sold out)

Die Arminnen, predictably enough, encountered no difficulties selling out the Alm. One acts on the assumption that they won't encounter any difficulties all season. The town of Bielefeld effectively is this club and vice-versa. When it comes to things to do in this hamlet on the northern Teutoburg fringes, the DSC is pretty much the only game in town.

Neither notoriously horrible weather nor a spiking incidence rate will keep these supporters away.

Bielefeld Maximum Stadium Capacity = 26,515

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 151.9 per 100,000

VfL Bochum (at) 1. FC Köln

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 25,000

Planned capacity = 25,000

Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)

Die Geißböcke of Germany's cathedral city are no longer alone in closing their doors to supporters without proof of either vaccination or recovery. VfL Wolfsburg also announced that they would implement the so-called "2G concept", "Geimpft" (vaccinated), "Genesen" (recovered). For now, 16 other Bundesliga clubs are still allowing a small portion of those declining to be vaccinated in under the "3G concept"--"Geimpft" (vaccinated), "Genesen" (recovered), "Getestet" (tested).

It's highly likely that "2G" will become the norm across the Bundesrepublik this autumn. One could also presume that all of the fixtures at the RheinEnergieStadion will sell out in Germany's football-mad "Domstadt". The Effzeh retain some of the most loyal supporters in all of the Bundesrepublik. There are even regular prayer services for the squad in the city's famous cathedral,

Köln Maximum Stadium Capacity = 50,000

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 148.8 per 100,000

Hertha BSC (at) FC Bayern München

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 25,000

Planned capacity = 25,000

Attendance = 25,000 (sold out)

Oliver Kahn has his wish. Bavaria's more conservative application of the federal allowance of 50-percent-stadium capacity was lifted last week. Only the second opportunity to see Germany's global brand club since their historic six-trophy season sold out within a matter of minutes. A sizable contingent of Hertha traveling fans were also permitted in, though they probably felt themselves deserving of a refund.

Bayern Maximum Stadium Capacity = 75,024

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 67.1 per 100,000

Borussia Mönchengladbach (at) 1. FC Union Berlin

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 11,006

Planned capacity = 11,006

Attendance = 11,006 (sold out)

The Stadion An der Alten Försterei should remain packed to its full capacity throughout the season. In point of fact the Union supporters won't hesitate to quickly snatch up all the available passes for the team's UEFA Europa Conference League games in the Olympiastadion. We've certainly not heard the last from opinionated club President Dirk Zingler. Union will surely be among the first clubs to push for more than 50 percent capacity.

Union Maximum Stadium Capacity = 22,012

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 83.2 per 100,000

RB Leipzig (at) VfL Wolfsburg

Maximum Spectator Allowance = 15,000

Planned capacity = 15,000

Attendance = 12,058 

From a Conference League team that everybody wants to see to Champions' League team that will have trouble filling its seats. The attendance totals from this weekend actually serve as a surprisingly high total for this company town. As noted in the most recent tactics column, die Wölfe opted to poke fun at themselves for new trainer Mark van Bommel's substitution error in the opening DFB Pokal round. Anyone purchasing five tickets got the sixth free.

The VfL recently announced their attendance cap for the first 2021/22 Champions' League fixture against Sevilla. A bundle of 12,844 tickets went on sale early in the week. Most Germans are accustomed to feeling as if they have a right to have a playful go at this town/team. Most nevertheless root for die Autostädter to sell out their international club competition matches. There shall be some who make the pilgrimage simply to watch UCL football.

Wolfsburg Maximum Stadium Capacity = 30,000

Local COVID RKI Incidence Rate = 100 per 100,000

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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