Bundesliga: Borussia Monchengladbach installs cut-out fans for Bundesliga return

Bundesliga: Borussia Monchengladbach installs cut-out fans for Bundesliga return

The top-flight club Borussia Monchengladbach, who occupies the fourth place and is chasing a place in the Champions League for next season, has found a new solution to the problem of playing in an empty stadium.

And before the resumption of the Bundesliga on May 16, the club is filling its stands with life-size cutouts of fans.

More than 4,500 cutouts have already been installed at Borussia-Park and 12,000 others have been ordered by the club as it prepares for the resumption of installations, according to Gladbach’s Twitter feed.
Bundesliga: Borussia Monchengladbach installs cut-out fans for Bundesliga return
Bundesliga: Borussia Monchengladbach installs cut-out fans for Bundesliga return

Supporters pay around $ 20 (19 euros) for the cut, all proceeds going to local causes, including relief efforts against the coronaviruses.

Gladbach’s first home game will be against Bayer Leverkusen on May 23. The team will play at Eintracht Frankfurt on May 16.

“The campaign organizers are regularly overwhelmed with orders; we can hardly keep trying to install them all,” said Gladbach supporters’ representative Thomas Weinmann on the Bundesliga website.
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“But we are obviously delighted with the overwhelming support he has received.”

The club even allowed fans of rival teams to purchase a virtual seat in the outdoor section of the 59,724-seat stadium.

“When you first enter the stadium for three or four seconds, you don’t realize they are not real people,” said Borussia player Marcus Thuram on the club’s website.

“Unfortunately we can’t get the same noise from the crowd, but it’s always a good feeling to have the fans there.”

Bundesliga: Borussia Monchengladbach installs cut-out fans for Bundesliga return

Security protocols

The Bundesliga offers some of the most consistent attendance in Europe, with an average of 43,300 people crammed into the stadiums each game.

However, although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has plans on Wednesday for a gradual reopening of the country after weeks of restrictions, it will be some time before fans can watch their teams play in person.

The country has 169,430 confirmed cases of virus with 7,392 deaths, according to the latest figures.

As a result, the games promise to look very different once they resume with a number of security protocols introduced.

The teams will arrive at different times and will have to respect the social distancing measures off the field.

Pre-match handshakes and team photos will be removed and the ball disinfected before and during the match.

Players will be tested for the virus at least once a week and will need two consecutive negative results to play, according to DW.

Lutz Pfannenstiel, sports director of the Bundesliga club Fortuna Düsseldorf, says that the return of the action behind closed doors is vital for the survival of a league which depends so much on television rights money.

“There is no point in beating around the bush that it is extremely important for the Bundesliga and for each club to return to the field and play,” he told CNN Sport.

“We are a league that depends a lot on television money. So to get it, playing is obviously what you have to do.

“There would be a lot of people who do not play, who are not coaches and who are not sitting in big positions – they would also find themselves in a bad economic situation.”

The benefits of the program are donated to local causes.

Build an “atmosphere”

Many other teams around the world have adopted similar innovative initiatives to fill otherwise empty stadiums during the pandemic.

Belarusian soccer club Dynamo Brest has sold virtual tickets to its home games, with all proceeds going to the rescue.

The baseball season in Taiwan has also resumed behind closed doors in recent weeks, with teams filling the seats with mannequins, cardboard cutouts and robots playing drums.

While the imminent return of Bundesliga action may be a welcome boost for many, playing behind closed doors means that teams will always miss their usual earnings for the day.

To help ease the financial burden, Union Berlin has designed a virtual match day menu, allowing fans to support the club by purchasing what they would normally do at the stadium – but without receiving the actual product.

Last month, registered club supporters also encouraged other fans not to accept refunds on tickets purchased previously to minimize the financial impact on the team.

Mitigate the financial blow

Since the league’s suspension on March 13, the clubs have suffered a huge financial blow and yearn for a comeback to help stabilize their position.

The head of the German Football League (DFL), Christian Seifert, previously said that the clubs of the two best leagues in the country would risk losing a total of 823 million dollars if the season could not be ended, due to losses. television, advertising and ticket sales rights.

Many players, coaches and board members have meanwhile cut their salaries to ease the financial burden.

In addition to looking after their own pockets, clubs and their players have also used their initiative to raise funds for the wider community.

For example, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski donated more than a million dollars to fight the epidemic in Germany, while Borussia Dortmund turned its stadium into a treatment center.

The league resumes with the title still to be won. Bayern Munich are currently leading with rivals Dortmund just four points behind with nine games left.

Meanwhile, Werder Bremen and SC Paderborn are anchored at the foot of the league but can both reach safety with the remaining matches.

CNN’s Aleks Klosok contributed to this report.

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