Stadia capacity rules irk Netherlands clubs



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Dutch fans allowed back into stadiums Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Though spectators have returned to stadiums in Netherlands after a gap of two months, yet the mood is anything but upbeat for the professional football clubs as the professional sports teams have been allowed to fill stadiums to a third of their normal capacities.

The ‘De Telegraaf’ quoted the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and the football clubs as stating that the Cabinet of the Netherland’s decision to partially fill the stands holds “no perspective”.

According to the KNVB and the clubs from the Eredivisie (the highest level of professional football in the Netherlands) and Keuken Kampioen Division (second-highest tier of football in the Netherlands), the decision to fill the stadiums for a third with spectators is “a proposal without perspective”. They made this remark in a joint statement signed by the Directors of the 34 professional clubs of Netherlands on January 25th, few among them being the KNVB (Marianne van Leeuwen), the Eredivisie CV (Jan de Jong) and Keuken Kampioen Division (Marc Boele).

On January 25th, the professional football clubs of Netherland urged the Cabinet of the Netherlands to allow more fans into the stadia of Netherlands otherwise they would be left in financial dire straits.

Strict COVID-19 protocols like jab-must proof and social distancing of 1.5 meters are in place. The football clubs stated that fans no longer allowed into venues after 10 pm will cast shadow on the duel events which are held post-8 pm. The new rules will be in place for three weeks.

The ‘De Telegraaf’ stated that stadia of the Eredivisie and Keuken Kampioen Division (second-highest tier of football in the Netherlands) have been sans fans since the beginning of November as Omicron became the dominant coronavirus variant in Netherlands and a ‘painful’ lockdown was imposed.

The professional football clubs urged the Government to allow them to use at least two-thirds of the capacity of their stadiums otherwise it will not help them in garnering ticket window profit. Using only one-third of the stadium capacity does not help, the clubs argued.

Stated a KNVB spokerson, “We want two-thirds of the stadium to be filled up as we have proved in the beginning of the current season that fixtures can be held with more fans in the stands if everybody follows COVID-appropriate behavior. Playing football in front of largely empty stands bleeds white the clubs as they are already facing financial hardships since COVID-19 bared its fangs on the world in March 2020.”

The football clubs want ‘The Hague’ spell out a date as to when full capacity in venues will be allowed.

The Dutch professional football club Alkmaar Zaanstreek General Director Robert Eenhoorn stated that he was “hugely disappointed” with the decision to allow only a third of the stadium capacity to be used – “We have demonstrated that we can safely and responsibly handle a higher occupancy rate. It is very disappointing that the Cabinet does not heed to the call from clubs and professional football to start with at least two- thirds of the capacity.”

The KNVB’s professional Football Director, Marianne van Leeuwen, termed the above decision of the Cabinet as “bad”.

Even the fans of the professional football clubs – Supporters Collective – have urged the Cabinet of the Netherlands to allow two-thirds of the stadia capacity.

A maximum of 1,250 people are allowed into sports arenas. Spectators must have a fixed seat of their own and keep a distance of 1.5 meters. The maximum number of visitors does not apply to outdoor stadiums, but no more than one-third of the capacity may be used. For professional sports competitions, all fans aged 13 and above must produce vaccination certificates and face coverings have been made mandatory, especially when people are on the move.

In both top and amateur sports, the public is welcome at training sessions and competitions between 5 am and 10 pm.

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