German club lets fans in for free to fill stadium again
It’s a dream for all soccer fans: going to your favorite club’s home games for free. German second division club Fortuna Düsseldorf is going to see if it can and does work.
Next season, initially Fortuna Düsseldorf’s first three matches on home soil will be freely accessible. Also for fans of the opponent. And eventually even all duels should be free to attend.
“We are taking this path for our fans and to increase the connection between the city and the club,” said general manager Alexander Jobst of Fortuna Düsseldorf, where Dutchmen Jorrit Hendrix and Jordy de Wijs are under contract. “We also thank our strong partners who are a support for us in this project.”
45 million euros
Jobst says these partners will guarantee a capital injection of 45 million euros for the next five years. The money is intended for the development of the pro branch of club, the stadium, investments in women’s soccer, digitalization and grassroots sports.
Incidentally, the city of Düsseldorf will also benefit from the development of the stadium, as the club’s home ground will host five European Football Championship matches in 2024.
And that less than fifty kilometers from the border with the Netherlands, the neighboring country where supporters of first division clubs complain bitterly about the high fees.
At Helmond Sport, fans curse the “absurdly high ticket prices,” as that is one of many clubs where, due to inflation and rising costs, they have been forced to make season tickets a bit more expensive again next season.
And clubs like ADO Den Haag and Roda JC in turn play in large stadiums that are barely half filled. Even in the premier league, clubs face that problem. In particular, FC Utrecht and Vitesse, usually regulars in the playoffs for European soccer, have low stadium occupancy rates.
The latter problem also has Fortuna Düsseldorf, where despite 29,500 spectators on average (!) still almost half of the available tickets remain unsold. The club hopes that with a full stadium extra forces will be released at the home team, in the hunt for a return to the Bundesliga.
Part of the revenue model is that more people come to the stadium and more is spent. And that, through this and other initiatives, even more money will come in at the bottom of the line for the club than is currently the case.
It seems like a scenario every club would like. The developments of this project will therefore be followed closely. Nevertheless, a comparison with the situation in the Dutch first division or even premier league is completely wrong.
Although only active on the second level, Fortuna Düsseldorf is comparable to a Dutch top club in terms of stadium and supporters. And not unimportantly, the fan experience and regulations are quite different in Germany than here.
Full day care
Trips to soccer are almost full day activities there, which makes it much easier for supporters to participate in activities around the games.
Last but not least, the financial base at many Dutch clubs is much narrower than at many German Traditionsvereine, even if they operate at lower levels. An experiment like Fortuna Düsseldorf’s therefore constitutes an irresponsible risk at the moment, they say at Roda JC, for example.
But nevertheless, it is an initiative from which Dutch clubs can also become a little wiser, in order to make it a little more fun again in the stadiums.