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AFAS Stadion report finds wider structural damage

AZ Alkmaar has today (Friday) announced that preliminary investigations into the cause of the roof collapse at AFAS Stadion have revealed further structural concerns, leading to fears the Dutch Eredivisie football club could be set for a long stay away from its home.

The incident happened on Saturday whilst the stadium was not in operation. The centre of the Molenaar Stand caved in on itself amid strong winds in the Netherlands over the weekend. AZ hired engineering and consultancy firm Royal HaskoningDHV to conduct an investigation into the incident, while the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) has been carrying out its own probe.

In the meantime, AZ played yesterday’s (Thursday’s) UEFA Europa League qualifier against FC Mariupol at ADO Den Haag’s Cars Jeans Stadion, with the venue also confirmed to host Sunday’s Eredivisie game versus FC Groningen.

AZ has now disclosed the results of an exploratory investigation by the OVV. The report issued by the OVV established that the direct cause of the roof collapse could be traced back to the failure of the welded joints in the trusses. A statement issued by the club added: “There are also two fractures and two suspicious spots in the trusses for the part of the roof that is still intact. These fractures and possible cracks could eventually lead to the collapse of these trusses.”

As part of the probe that Royal HaskoningDHV is carrying out for AZ, the club said the welding connections in question will be inspected in detail throughout the entire roof construction by means of non-destructive testing. In consultation with the OVV, destructive testing will also be carried out into the welds of the collapsed trusses.

AZ said Royal HaskoningDHV is expected to submit its interim report into the matter by the end of the month. The club stated: “Based on the results of these investigations, a comprehensive recovery plan will be drawn up and submitted to the Municipality of Alkmaar for approval. It is not yet known how much time this process will take until full recovery.

“AZ takes this very seriously. It goes without saying that until full certainty can be given with regard to the safety of everyone, the stands remain closed to the public. This does not apply to the rooms in the main building.

“The consequences for the AZ competition schedule will be charted in the short term and discussed with the KNVB (Dutch Football Association) and UEFA.”

In the wake of the latest news, Rob Nijsse, Professor of Structural Design at the Delft University of Technology, has warned that it could be years before AZ is allowed to return to its stadium. Nijsse told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad that the OVV’s final report is likely to lead to legal proceedings, adding “the reasonable period is then a few years.”

However, Nijsse did add that should AZ, as owner of the stadium, come up with a strong solution to the issue, and appoint a contractor to carry the work out, the club could return within a year.

Earlier this week, solar energy company Sunprojects moved to deny reports that the installation of its products could have been responsible for the collapse of part of the roof at AFAS Stadion.

Image: AZ Alkmaar