The experience at the stadium of 1. FC Union Berlin is characterised by closeness and the intense participation from supporters in the events surrounding the 90 minutes. The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is a key hub for social contact and offers a good 1,000 people a chance to earn their living on a matchday. The heart of club life has not been felt for months due to the measures in place to tackle the outbreak of COVID-19.
In his matchday programme foreword before the last home game of the season, 1. FC Union Berlin president Dirk Zingler wrote: "When it comes to organisation, 1. FC Union Berlin are prepared to do everything in their power to welcome people without social distancing in the ground as quickly as possible. The easy way has never been an option for Union."
Following the DFL's hygiene plan, which proved success for special match operations, 1. FC Union Berlin is hoping for full capacity at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei for the first Bundesliga matchday at the latest. Central to the DFL strategy was testing all people who couldn't maintain social distancing and the implementation of mask wearing. The outcome was that it was possible to ensure that only people who were not carrying the virus came into contact with each other.
In order to achieve this objective, 1. FC Union Berlin are working towards testing their staff and all 22,012 ticket holders for coronavirus on matchday. Stadium entry will then be granted with a match ticket and a negative test result, which must not be older than 24 hours before the stadium closes its doors.
"Our stadium experience doesn't work with social distancing, and if we aren't allowed to sing and shout, then it's not Union," added the Union club president. "At the same time, the safety of our visitors and staff is at the heart of all our considerations. We want to ensure as best we can that nobody is infected at our sold-out stadium – this applies to Union club members and the away supporters. To implement such a plan is an enormous organisational and economic challenge, which we are happy to tackle with all our might. It means that we as a football club will carry the costs of implementing the necessary measures ourselves. Our goal is to give back to the people the football they love and long for and – which we've repeatedly emphasised in recent months – to get the people who are in urgent need of it back to work.
A number of possibilities are being explored to be able to use the testing capacities that are available in sufficient quantity within the 24 hours. Initial talks with potential partners for the implementation of our plan are already underway. As soon as the organisation framework has been defined, 1. FC Union Berlin will present the plan to the responsible health authorities of the Treptow-Köpenick region and the state of Berlin.