NEC Nijmegen and Almere City to trial return of fans in Netherlands

Eerste Divisie clubs NEC Nijmegen and Almere City have been chosen to host test events that will see fans return to Dutch football games for the first time since the end of September.

The two second-tier games next month will be part of eight events run under the banner of ‘Back to Live!’ The venture is being run by Fieldlab Events, a government-backed initiative which represents the events sector during COVID-19.

Fieldlab Events has been working on a plan for safe and responsible events with an increased visitor capacity. This is being conducted in collaboration with the latest scientific advice and with the support of the four ministries of Economic Affairs; Education, Culture & Science; Justice & Security; and Health, Welfare & Sport.

Fieldlab Events will run the two football test events in association with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB), with NEC and Almere City chosen to host them. NEC’s Stadion de Goffert (pictured) will stage the first game on February 21, a league match against De Graafschap.

Some 1,500 season-ticket holders will be admitted for the two games, with the clubs spelling out the measures that will be in place. NEC said that before the match, fans will have to download a special pilot app, entitled ‘Close’, to allow for communication between them and organisers. Fans will have to undergo a COVID-19 test at the stadium ahead of the game.

Every supporter will be asked for a temperature measurement when entering the Goffert. In the case of a positive test and/or high temperature measurement, no access will be granted. Fans will be divided into six bubbles of 250 supporters inside the stadium and be asked to wear protective measures such as face masks. Fans will also be given an electronic tag to track their movements within the stadium.

After the match, fans will undergo another COVID-19 test five days following the game. They will be asked to retain the Close app on their phones for a further three weeks. NEC said: “By means of this announcement and the additional terms and conditions, you as a supporter are aware of what is expected of you before, during and after the end of this test match.”

Almere City’s test match will be a league game against Cambuur on February 28 at Yanmar Stadion. The club said its 1,500 tickets will be divided into bubbles of 200, 600 and 700 supporters.

Image: NEC Nijmegen