FC Copenhagen planning ‘extraordinary’ return to Telia Parken

FC Copenhagen has said it is planning “something extraordinary” for the return of Superliga football to Telia Parken next month.

The Superliga has been suspended since March 9 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but is set to resume behind closed doors on May 28 for a match between AGF Aarhus and Randers. Reigning Superliga champion FC Copenhagen is due to continue its season with a trip to Lyngby BK on June 1, before Randers is welcomed to Telia Parken on June 7.

Before that time, Telia Parken will host two ‘test matches’ on Friday and Tuesday, respectively. Commenting on the plans for the return to action, Jes Mortensen, head of communications for FC Copenhagen, told TheStadiumBusiness.com: “The main challenge is getting the procedure just right so we are spending extra time on planning everything for June 7. But we feel confident that it will work out just fine.

“Our fans have asked if they can use the main stand and their behind the goal position for something extraordinary for the first match, while the club is trying to offer the closest thing to a match experience at home to our fans. More on that will follow when it’s ready.”

FC Copenhagen is one of a number of Danish clubs that are adopting innovative ventures during COVID-19. Earlier this month, Telia Parken opened up to school children as part of the country’s wider reopening measures.

Primary schools reopened in Denmark last month and FC Copenhagen has taken the decision to open up facilities in the national stadium for schools and educational establishments in the city that need extra space to facilitate the required social distancing measures.

Some students are taking classes in Telia Parken’s VIP lounge, with full panoramic views of the stadium. The venture started with 200 students, but has now moved beyond 300. Mortensen said: “First of all we felt that it made all the sense in the world to help the city that we are a part of and love very much.

“We learned that the schools were facing difficulties meeting the demands regarding distancing between the students and, since we have a lot of extra space on our hands at the moment, we offered some of the VIP areas to the schools.

“It’s been a pleasure to host them and the main challenge was to think it through before the kids came to school, regarding all the practicalities. But it has worked out great so far. We have expanded the number of students now and we also offered the use of our facilities as a (COVID-19) test centre, but the city used other locations.”

After what was said to be “intense negotiations”, the City of Copenhagen, Danish Football Union (DBU), Telia Parken and Sport Event Denmark this month said an agreement had been reached to retain the stadium’s host venue status for the rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020 next summer.

With the Grand Depart of cycling’s Tour de France also due to take place in the Danish capital next year, there had been question marks over whether the two major events could be held at the same time.

In recent weeks, the DBU and the City of Copenhagen held a series of meetings on how the four European Championship matches could be staged in the capital, while preparing for the opening stage of the Tour de France on July 2. Football’s European governing body and Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organiser of the Tour, participated in the meetings.

Mortensen said: “The main issue was between the City, ASO and UEFA and not so much us in the stadium. We have had to work intensely to make our calendar for next summer work in a way that ensures that both Euro 2020, the Tour de France, our match schedule and our concert season works.”

Parken was also in the news at the end of last year. In November, the DBU committed to Parken as its main home for the period spanning the summer of 2020 through to the end of 2022, with the venue stating it would be open to discussing the governing body’s vision for a 50,000-seat stadium, but only if it is “financially sustainable”.

The DBU’s announcement came after chairman Jesper Møller spelled out a vision for a 50,000-seat stadium in an effort to keep up with developments in other European nations. The masterplan was revealed through a DBU briefing issued to local football stakeholders. In the briefing, the DBU wrote that Danish football needs a “modern national stadium” with capacity for a minimum of 50,000 spectators.

The Union stated it is a requirement if Denmark is to harbour aspirations of hosting major tournaments, citing the UEFA Women’s European Championship, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the UEFA Europa League final.

Telia Parken currently has a capacity of about 38,000 and is owned by the same entity as FC Copenhagen – Parken Sport & Entertainment. It has been the home of the national team since it opened in its current guise in 1992, but Denmark has played at the site since 1912.

Commenting on whether expansion is on the cards for the stadium, Mortensen said: “At the moment there are no plans to expand, but we are of course ready to discuss all ideas.”