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BUNDESLIGA'S BACK

German Bundesliga football is set to return… but should it be?

With the Bundesliga set to return as early as May 9, fans and experts are split on whether to progress with the league throughout the current situation is a good idea.

With games played behind closed doors and strict restrictions on how the matches will actually operate, striking the balance between kicking off the league again and people’s health has been the main discussion point.

But what will empty stadiums and Bundesliga football’s return mean for fans?

“The idea of Bundesliga football continuing in May is obviously good news for many fans who are desperate for some degree of normality in these difficult times,” says German football expert Marcus Erberich.

“Football is important in Germany as it is in England, as a pastime and a business.

“Others however are more cautious and think that as a non essential business football should not be carried forward too hastily. There’s two sides to that coin – as with most things.”

Empty stadiums are likely to become a hallmark of football for some months

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Empty stadiums are likely to become a hallmark of football for some months

The two sides of the coin consist of ensuring club’s survival by getting revenue in from playing matches, but protecting players and staff from the spread of Covid-19.

Clubs have been returning to training in the past fortnight, with most sides limiting sessions to three or four players each and still observing social distancing guidelines.

“There are obviously concerns being voiced in politics and media about football returning,” Erberich adds.

“Those who are worried that May would be too soon say that we should rather wait until the autumn when there is hopefully more certainty about the virus and the ways to fight it and test for it.

Thomas Muller, the original ‘space investigator’, taking it to another level in Bayern Munich training

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Thomas Muller, the original ‘space investigator’, taking it to another level in Bayern Munich training

“We need to stop people from getting infected, that’s the most important thing.

“Another argument is that football should not be given unfair advantages compared to other businesses that are still heavily affected by lockdown measures. This would only lead to dissatisfaction in parts of society.”

German football fans have been held up for some years as the gold-standard in stadium atmosphere.

But with the prospect of football being played behind closed doors, teams will quickly have to adapt to not hearing the usual noises of the Yellow Wall and the Nordwestkurve.

Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall won’t be returning any time soon

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Borussia Dortmund’s Yellow Wall won’t be returning any time soon

Erberich says it’s a sobering prospect but ultimately the reasons to play behind closed doors are obvious.

He adds: “Football is for the fans, so games in front of empty stands are a sad thought – especially in Germany where football gives many fans a purpose in their everyday life – they meet friends and family on match days.

“Watching the action on TV will of course be a welcome distraction, but it won’t be the same.”