Reports coming out of Germany this week have suggested that the Bundesliga could return behind closed doors at some point next month.
Christian Seifert, the chief executive of the DFL (German Football League) stated that the league could be up and running as early as 9th May.
Should Germany’s top flight be allowed to resume, matches will take place with a maximum total of just 300 people inside the ground. The 300 will be made up of the two teams, plus their coaching and medical staff, the referees, a small media crew and security. 300 has been touted as the absolute maximum number likely to be permitted, with some even suggesting that just 230 people would be required for a match to go ahead.
As the ban on public gatherings in Germany is currently in place until 31st August, no fans will be allowed inside the stadium. Fans have also been warned that games could be called off if groups of supporters are spotted gathering close to stadiums on match days.
News of the potential restart hasn’t exactly sat well with some fan groups, with one group suggesting that restarting football during quarantine would make “a mockery of the rest of society.” This statement takes aim at the fact testing kits will be used to test players before each game day. While this would undoubtedly be essential if the Bundesliga were to restart so soon, many fans believe that testing footballers would take resources away from medical staff and other key workers.
The Bundesliga was one of the few European top flight leagues to play a game behind closed doors before the country officially went into lockdown. Borussia Mönchengladbach beat rivals Cologne 2- 1 in the Rhine Derby back in March, in a match dubbed the first “ghost game”.
While the move may not be proving a popular idea with fans, the DFL, and most Bundesliga clubs, feel the move is essential from a financial standpoint. Restarting the league next month would mean that Germany’s top flight clubs would avoid losses on TV broadcasting money and sponsorship income. Clubs would of course still take a hit on match day ticket sales.
Borussia Dortmund’s executive director, Hans-Joachim Watzke, believes that the Bundesliga simply can’t financially survive should it not restart. If the restart does go ahead, it will mean that only Germany’s top 2 divisions would begin playing games behind closed doors.
The final say on whether or not the matches can start to be played isn’t entirely a footballing decision, as they will need the green light from the German government. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on April 30th. The Bundesliga’s restart is not expected to be made official until after this meeting.
If the restart does happen, players and staff are expected to be subject to extra strict social distancing measures in the run up to matches.