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Far From a Closed Case

The legal battle SC Freiburg are having with German authorities about playing matches in their new stadium shows no sign of abating as the latest round of hearings this month saw the case take an unexpected turn.

The case originally made headlines back in October 2019 when the courts in Mannheim ruled that any matches played at the soon-to-be-completed SC Freiburg Stadium after 8pm or between 1-3pm on Sundays would be banned. The stadium has cost nearly €80 million to construct and is expected to be packed with 35,000 fans each match - so the decision to ban matches because they exceed permitted noise limits during local resident's 'resting times' is causing a major headache for SC Freiburg and the German football authorities regarding fixture scheduling. There did appear to be a breakthrough in the deadlock back in May when it was revealed that the Mannheim court had based it's ruling on outdated noise limits that were lower than those currently in place and, in light of this development, the courts reviewed the case and were widely expected to overturn the ban. In a controversial move however, they have instead decided to uphold their original decision although they have made an exemption for evening and Sunday matches on the proviso that these are cup games in either domestic or international competition. For the Bundesliga games though, the original ban on matches in evenings and Sunday afternoons stands with the court arguing that the 18 home matches a season were wrongly classed as 'rare events' in the planning documentation - which would have allowed for higher noise thresholds.

The ruling has proved to be controversial although both SC Freiburg and the local authorities are hopeful that the ban can be overturned sooner than later when the case will be reviewed by the Freiburg Administrative Court. The Regional Council of Freiburg is arguing that the Mannheim court's decision isn't in line with rulings in other German states, where classification of Bundesliga games has been allowed. And even if the Freiburg court agree with their counterparts in Mannheim then further appeals are promised along with changes by the local authorities to the planning permission documents and noise measurements as soon as fans are allowed in the SC Freiburg Stadium - although this last bit may be some time off as construction delays and the ongoing COVID pandemic limiting the number of fans allowed in stadiums has led to SC Freiburg confirming they will only move away from their old Schwarzwald Stadion in 2021.

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