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Champions League in Olympiastadion

Union's Stadium Decision

Tue, 04. July 2023
Champions League in Olympiastadion

On the last match of the 2022/23 season, 1. FC Union Berlin ensured fourth place in the Bundesliga, and with it qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. It has been decided that Union’s home ties in the world’s premier club competition will be played in Berlin’s Olympiastadion.

Union President Dirk Zingler addressed the club's members yesterday evening (03.07.2023) in a personal letter.

Dear Union members,

This is the second time in just a few weeks that I have addressed you directly. There are sometimes decisions made that I find so important, as many Union members as possible should understand why we made them in the way that we did.

The decision about where we will host our home games in the Champions League is one of them, because it has to do with our home, the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. So, ultimately, it is a theme that had to be addressed rationally, but it is also one that touches upon our deepest emotions.

Largely it is people, not places, that are at the centre of the club's management's actions. But, of course places are important too. Because they mean home, familiarity and comfort. They can offer security, they are where we live and work, where we develop our futures and provide for the security of the next generations.

That is why, since we took office in 2004, the most important thing for me and my colleagues on the executive committee was to save the natural home of our club and to ensure its future. There has never been the slightest doubt in our minds that this place is and will remain the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.

Over many, often difficult years, facing considerable opposition, we have pushed ahead with the development of our stadium. And we have come a long way - from saving the stadium from decay to hosting a last 16 match in the Europa League. Today it's ours, it's paid for, it's free of encumbrances and we're going to grow it significantly over the next few years, too. We can all be very proud of that. Together!

But now, we have had to decide whether our stadium is suitable for the Champions League. Happily, UEFA are continuing to allow standing terraces for the season ahead, meaning that (when considering the many extra arrangements and conditions, and a considerable reduction in our own seating and sponsor’s areas) even Champions League matches would be possible in our stadium.

I have had a lot of conversations in recent weeks, with honorary members, with former players and staff, with fans both organised and less so, with members and sponsors, and even with those who have been close to our club for many years - in some cases decades - yet who are not members.

We never had to point out to each other how important the Alte Försterei is to us. But we also quickly realised how important it is to give all Union fans the opportunity to experience these extraordinary forthcoming games in the flesh. This applies, too, to our own sponsors and the many older Union members who have been watching matches in our stadium for decades in the few seats available.

Therefore, after considering the many good arguments, we in the club management have decided to host the Champions League matches at the Olympiastadion, and the Youth League matches at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.

I understand the disappointment of those who would have liked to see Champions League matches at the Alte Försterei and would even have forgone their own ticket to do so. But in essence, our decision ended up placing the possibility of being able to offer tickets for these games to all fans, above that of playing them in front of a rather smaller group of Unioners at the Alte Försterei.

We have a small stadium, so for many years more and more members have not been able to, or have been able to attend only a few of their club’s games in person. We believe that giving every one of our 56,000 members the opportunity to experience these special Champions League matches live is the right decision.

Our guiding principle has been thus: the Champions League is for all Unioners. And we will also make sure that as many people as possible can afford to attend these games.

Dear Unioners, you can believe me, I have had easier decisions to make in the last 19 years. That's why I would like to close on a personal note.

Since more than 45 years for myself, more than 25 for my children, and now for some years, even, for my grandchildren, our stadium has become an extension of home. I know this is the same for many thousands of you and your families. But it is just as important to me to make it possible for the people to experience Union. Let's spend the greatest point in our club's history so far together with as many other Unioners as possible.

For my happiest moments at Union, personally, were the ones I was able to share with my family and friends.

I am very much looking forward to the season ahead. We are in the Bundesliga again, and this time, even the Champions League and Youth League. And all of 1. FC Union Berlin’s teams, whether men, women or youth, deserve our full support - no matter where and no matter when. 

Eisern greetings,

Dirk Zingler