Christian Seifert, chief executive of the German Football League (DFL), has admitted that fans are unlikely to return to the Bundesliga before the end of this season. All major leagues across Europe are currently playing matches behind closed doors due to COVID-19 and although the Bundesliga began its season with a limited number of fans permitted in stadiums, matches have been played behind closed doors since October.
Clubs had been allowed to open their stadiums at 20% capacity, providing local infection numbers were low and the relevant hygiene processes had been approved. Although there are still around four months of the 2020-21 season remaining, Seifert has admitted that the campaign is likely to be played out without fans. In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Seifert said: “In any case (of a fan return), not in a significant number. If we had ruled out games without fans from the start as some people demanded, the system would have collapsed.
And no one at (the league) or the clubs wants to have games without fans either. However, we still have them because they are the only permitted option for hosting games, and presumably we will have them until the end of the season.” Seifert had previously warned that the Bundesliga’s turnover would drop by as much as €1bn (£891m/$1.2bn) this season if fans were unable to return to stadiums and said that the 2019-20 season, which was paused in March due to COVID-19 before being concluded behind closed doors, saw turnover drop by around 6%, or €250m. He went on to say that this would seem like a “gentle breeze” compared to the losses anticipated in the 2020-21 season.
Borussia Dortmund recorded the highest attendance of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season so far when 11,500 fans watched their 4-0 win over SC Freiburg in early October and a number of other teams also welcomed fans to their stadiums. Champions Bayern München have so far played all their home games behind closed doors.