Two Netherland clubs to hold pilots with fans


Netherlands planning return of fans Image: Almere City

Eerste Divisie (Netherland) clubs NEC Nijmegen and Almere City have been picked up to stage pilots that will see fans return to Dutch football games for the first time since the end of September as COVID-19 continues to bleed Europe.

The two second-tier games this month will be part of eight events to run under the banner of ‘Back to Live!’ The venture is being run by Fieldlab Events, a Government-backed initiative which represents the events sector during COVID-19.

The Eerste Divisie is the second-highest tier of football in the Netherlands. It is linked with the top-level Eredivisie and with the third-level Tweede Divisie via promotion/relegation systems.

NEC Nijmegen, commonly known as NEC, is a Dutch football club from the City of Nijmegen (Netherlands) that plays in the Eerste Divisie.

Almere City Football Club is a Dutch professional football club based in Almere, Flevoland. Founded in 2001, the club competes in the Eerste Divisie, the second tier of Dutch football, and hosts home matches at the Yanmar Stadion.

Fieldlab Events has been working on a plan for safe and responsible events with an increased visitor capacity. This is being conducted in tune with the latest scientific advice and with the support of the four Ministries of Economic Affairs, Education, Culture & Science; Justice and Security; and Health, Welfare and Sport.

Fieldlab Events will run the two football pilot events in tandem with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB), with NEC and Almere City chosen to host them. NEC’s residence – Stadion de Goffert – will stage the first game on February 21st, a league match against De Graafschap – a professional football club from Doetinchem, Netherlands, playing in the Eerste Divisie.

Some 1,500 season-ticket holders will be admitted for the two games, with the clubs spelling out the measures that will be in place. NEC informed that prior to the match, fans will have to download a special pilot app, entitled ‘Close’, to allow for communication between them and organizers. Fans will have to undergo a COVID-19 test at the venue ahead of the game.

Every supporter will be asked for a temperature measurement when entering the Goffert. In the case of a positive test and/or high temperature measurement, access to the arena will be denied. Fans will be divided into six bubbles of 250 supporters inside the stadium and will be asked to wear face coverings. Fans will also be given an electronic tag to track their movements within the facility.

Once the fixture is over, spectators will have to undergo another COVID-19 test five days following the game. They will be asked to retain the Close app on their phones for a further three weeks.

The NEC said in a statement, “By means of this announcement and the additional terms and conditions, you as a supporter are aware of what is expected of you before, during and after the end of this test match.”

Almere City’s test match will be a league game against Cambuur (a Dutch football club from the City of Leeuwarden that plays in the Eerste Divisie) on February 28th at Yanmar Stadion. The club said its 1,500 tickets will be divided into bubbles of 200, 600 and 700 supporters.

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