Geisterspiele: A splint for broken world game


As Bayer Leverkusen finished their 4-1 route of Bremen in the Weser Stadion, there was nothing but happiness from the visitors.

Their glee was echoing throughout the stadium in a way that might be eerie except instead of a silenced home crowd, it was an empty cavern where voices echoed off the walls. Signs of how even this league known for fan involvement will have a long road before the turnstiles will chime again.

Of the nine matches played in the restart of the Bundesliga, there was only one team that won on their home turf, Borussia Dortmund. The home crowd impact dashed like water on a rocky shore. Covid-19’s impact on the matchday atmosphere which can bolster a team was immensely felt.

It is a stark reminder of what is lost while having matches take place. Stadiums like Stadion An der Alten Fosteri and Commerzbank Arena are known for their fan ferocity that has little equal around the globe. Each stadium had its team face perceived stronger opposition and fail. In other cases with full stadiums, one if not both of these results, 2-0 and 3-1 respectively, could have been different. Such is the impact of the fan environment within Germany and specifically at these stadia.

Why not wait until health officials say it is safe to return?

With each country having reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic in different fashion and no cure available, it would seem that until full populace inoculation, fans will not be in stadiums for many months to come.

So why come back now?

In the Bundesliga, and the Bundesliga 2, TV companies that pay for the rights fees for the agreed TV contract had yet to pay out the final installment for this season. While this isn’t breaking every team, multiple teams in the Bundesliga and close to half of the second division, as the TV deal for the two leagues is tied together, would need to declare bankruptcy.

During this time that no matches were being played players we continuing to get paid. With no last TV money installment and no matchday revenue, this was something that clubs would not be able to endue for too long.

For now, this current situation will mean that the TV money paid out is able to help clubs limp along to finish out the season where they will then receive payouts from the league per their finish within the leagues and of course the benefits should they earn promotion to next seasons Bundesliga.

This is something that every league will need to navigate. Some, such as Scotland, Netherlands, Belgium, and France, have called an end to the season. Others have merely postponed with hopes of resuming when local conditions are better, that and looking directly at Germany for how the Bundesliga handles the resumption of the league season.

Everyone at this point who has not called an end is admitting that they are merely unable to do so due to money from TV companies. That and figuring out who would represent the respective nations in UEFA competitions, which brings to those clubs more money.

So far, Dynamo Dresden has had the only substantial outbreak within a squad. They have been ordered a 14-day hard quarantine, and after one week of matches across the divisions things were weird as people adjust to the new situation.

After all, the players are human like the staff and the fans now watching on TV’s and streaming devices. They must have been desperate to return to the manner of their employment that in some cases they have spent more time in their life than in any other venture.

While it will be weird making the adjustment to no live matchday atmosphere to be sure, humans being the social creatures that they are will be able to adapt to these new restrictions and be able to make the best of it until things might be able to return to what they were before Covid-19



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