It is the first major European competition to be back in operation later this month, but with games being held behind closed doors, German Bundesliga clubs need to talk of innovative ways of building an environment where thousands of spectators are unable to watch matches.
Bundesliga is back with strict standards
The top-flight side of Borussia Monchengladbach, who is in fourth place and will be chasing the Champions League slot for next season, has come up with a novel solution to the problem of playing in an empty stadium.
And ahead of the resumption of the Bundesliga on May 16, the club is in the process of filling its stands with life-size supporters.
More than 4,500 cut-outs have already been installed at Borussia-Park, with a further 12,000 ordered by the club as it prepares for the resumption of the fixtures, according to Gladbach’s Twitter feed.
Supporters are charging about $20 (19 euros) for the elimination of all proceeds to social organizations, including coronavirus recovery efforts.
Gladbach’s first home game is on May 23 against Bayer Leverkusen. On May 16 the team starts off at Eintracht Frankfurt.
“The campaign organizers are constantly overwhelming applications; we can hardly keep trying to mount them all,” Gladbach fan delegate Thomas Weinmann told the Bundesliga web site.
“But we are definitely happy with the enormous support it has provided.”
The club has even allowed rival team fans to purchase a virtual seat in the 59,724 capacity stadium away section.
“When you first get into the stadium, you don’t realize it’s not real people for three or four seconds”. Borussia player Marcus Thuram told the club website.
“Unfortunately we can’t get the same noise from the crowd. But it’s still a nice feeling to have the fans in there.”
The Bundesliga also offers some of Europe’s most regular attendances. With an average of 43,300 fans packed each game into stadiums.
With German Chancellor Angela Merkel spelling out preparations for the country’s phased reopening following weeks-long sanctions on Wednesday. Though, it will be some time until supporters will watch their sides play in person.