Fans are set to return to the Bundesliga on Saturday after Union Berlin was granted permission to welcome 2,000 supporters for its match against RB Leipzig.
Union Berlin had submitted an application for the return of fans to the Berlin Senate for Internal Affairs, and the club’s request was approved yesterday (Monday) afternoon.
Fans attending the match will be required to carry out a COVID-19 test beforehand. Fans that have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 will not be required to have a test.
Union Berlin said that permission to stage Saturday’s match with fans is subject to the COVID-19 situation in the German capital, with infection rates to be monitored in the coming days. Berlin’s seven-day incidence rate will need to remain lower than 100 cases per 100,000 people if the match is to go ahead with fans.
Tickets will be allocated in a lottery, which has already started among fans that had a season ticket for the 2020-21 campaign. If the fan attendance plans remain in place, any remaining tickets will be made available no later than May 21.
Saturday’s match at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei will mark the first time that fans have attended a Bundesliga fixture since October. The Bundesliga did begin its season with a limited number of fans permitted in stadiums but matches have been held behind closed doors since October after COVID-19 infection rates rose across Germany.
The Stadion An der Alten Försterei has a capacity of 22,000. Union Berlin’s last match in front of fans was against SC Freiburg on October 24, with 4,500 supporters in attendance.
Ahead of the start of the season, Union Berlin said it would offer free COVID-19 tests to more than 20,000 fans as it looked to play in front of a capacity crowd when the season got underway in September. The proposal was ultimately rejected but the club was able to welcome a limited number of fans when the season began.
Christian Seifert, chief executive of the German Football League (DFL), said in January that it was unlikely fans would return before the end of the Bundesliga season but Union Berlin appears set to welcome supporters on the final weekend.
The DFL revealed in March that the revenue of clubs in the Bundesliga had dropped by around 5.4% during the 2019-20 season, which was severely hit by the pandemic. The DFL was forced to suspend the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga seasons in March 2020 as the pandemic took hold, meaning that the final nine match days were held behind closed doors.