The Bundesliga will once again have to manage without spectators at the start of the new year. The DEL and BBL are also affected by the latest decisions.
As expected, due to concerns about the highly contagious Corona variant Omikron, politicians decided on Tuesday to completely exclude spectators at major supra-regional sporting events from 28 December. “Major supra-regional events may no longer be held with spectators, and this applies in particular to football matches,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz. In a first version of the draft resolution, there had still been talk of upper limits for spectators.
It was initially unclear for how long this regulation, which was agreed upon at the federal-state summit, would apply. Recently, at least some spectator stands were allowed to be occupied in stadiums and halls in some of the federal states.
The second half of the Bundesliga begins on 7 January (Bayern against Gladbach), the 2nd Bundesliga starts again from 14 January, parallel to the 3rd Liga.
DFL shows understanding and calls for vaccination
“Of course, general health protection and relieving the burden on health care systems have top priority, all the more so in view of the current assessments by the German government and its experts on the possible spread of the Omikron variant of the coronavirus,” reads a brief statement from the DFL. “In this respect, the temporary restrictions imposed by the federal and state governments on spectators at major events are regrettable but understandable – even if we all hoped until recently that there would be no nationwide return to matches without fans in the stadiums. The DFL is making a renewed and urgent appeal: Get vaccinated or refresh your vaccination as soon as possible!”
In any case, the decision is having a massive impact on professional sport. Managing Director Hans-Joachim Watzke of Borussia Dortmund had already warned politicians in advance against a “symbolic policy” and showed no understanding for a spectator exclusion: Professional football, he said, as an open-air event with a “proven, coherent concept”, had proven to handle the situation responsibly.
Wehrle gives figures: “1.8 million euros loss of revenue per match “
Cologne’s managing director Alexander Wehrle also emphasises that no hotspots have been created by outdoor events, which has also been confirmed by the health department. “The stability of the health system is above everything,” Wehrle nevertheless understands the concerns of politicians, “but this is not good news for professional sport that we now have to experience ghost matches again.” He also gave an insight into what this means concretely in figures for the club: “For FC, this means a loss of 1.8 million euros in revenue per match.” Second division club Werder Bremen also reckon with a loss of revenue of around up to 1.1 million euros per match.
DEL is the first sport to be affected – HBL paused
The measure hits the indoor sports, which are even more dependent on spectator income than football with its multi-billion TV contract, hard. In the German Ice Hockey League (DEL), all games will take place in front of empty stands as early as 28 December, while the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) will be affected one day later.
The Handball Bundesliga (HBL) is lucky that its games will be suspended until 9 February because of the European Championship. Whether the return of the spectators will be possible by then, however, seems at least questionable.