German Bundesliga club 1. FC Union Berlin is hoping to welcome a full capacity crowd at its stadium after testing staff and fans for coronavirus.
Union said it wants to fill the 22,000-seater Alte Försterei Stadium by the first match day of the coming season at the latest.
The stadium will be open to anyone who can prove they’ve tested negative for coronavirus in the previous 24 hours.
In his match day programme foreword before the last home game of the season, 1. FC Union Berlin president Dirk Zingler wrote:
When it comes to organisation, 1. FC Union Berlin are prepared to do everything in their power to welcome people without social distancing in the ground as quickly as possible. The easy way has never been an option for Union.
In order to achieve this objective, 1. FC Union Berlin are working towards testing their staff and all 22,012 ticket holders for coronavirus on match day.
Stadium entry will then be granted with a match ticket and a negative test result, which must not be older than 24 hours before the stadium closes its doors. Zingler added:
Our stadium experience doesn’t work with social distancing, and if we aren’t allowed to sing and shout, then it’s not Union. At the same time, the safety of our visitors and staff is at the heart of all our considerations. We want to ensure as best we can that nobody is infected at our sold-out stadium – this applies to Union club members and the away supporters.
To implement such a plan is an enormous organisational and economic challenge, which we are happy to tackle with all our might. It means that we as a football club will carry the costs of implementing the necessary measures ourselves. Our goal is to give back to the people the football they love and long for and – which we’ve repeatedly emphasised in recent months – to get the people who are in urgent need of it back to work.
A number of possibilities are being explored to be able to use the testing capacities that are available in sufficient quantity within the 24 hours.
The club said initial talks with potential partners for the implementation of the plan are already underway. As soon as the organisation framework has been defined, 1. FC Union Berlin will present the plan to the responsible health authorities of the Treptow-Köpenick region and the state of Berlin.