The Austrian FA is planning to restart the Bundesliga behind closed doors due the current Corona outbreak. Today several ultra/fan groups in Austria came out with a joint statement about the so called upcoming ‘Ghost Matches’.

Read the full statement below:

Unfortunately, we are currently unable to live out our love of sport and our clubs in the stadium. None of us like that, but we have to go through this together temporarily. We are fully aware of the current exceptional situation – both socially and from a football perspective. However, we are not so sure about this when it comes to decision-makers in Austrian football. One thing is beyond question: the economic situation of many clubs is tense; The majority of the professional clubs are reportedly insolvent from September at the latest. In addition, UEFA is exerting great pressure on the national leagues and the TV partners are also very interested in the continuation of advertising campaigns. And also a lot of football fans, who usually go to their club’s home games,

These circumstances mean that the decision-makers take the holding of ghost games as a matter of course and without any discussion. Football should therefore only take place indefinitely (in the worst case far beyond the summer) only when the public is excluded. This option is argued by the officials with fairness and the idea of ​​competition. The conclusion of the Bundesliga and thus the allocation of the European Cup seats should therefore be pursued by sport. However, this fairness does not seem to apply to the clubs below the Bundesliga, which are vitally important promotions and relegations – a very clear pretext. The truth is contracts that contain money – lots of money.

A paradigm shift is currently continuing through the back door “Covid-19”, which began in England in the 1990s: football no longer takes place in the stadium for fans, but for television. As a billion-dollar money machine and playground for some empires that can only survive if it is kept running. “No standstill at any cost” currently seems to be the general formula. The grandstand visitor, the fan, is now only the surface for TV broadcasts. The emotions are supposed to sell the product better, but in no way disturb the transmission and the show. Decisions made by video referees, for example, only have to be understood by the audience in front of the television – no consideration is given to the emotions in the stadium.

The public’s great interest is cited as a further argument for continuing the league with ghost games, as it is just now necessary that “an important piece of normalcy returns for people”. Just stupid that the cat literally bites its tail in this context, at least in Austria. Blinded by the money, the TV rights of the league are known to have been moved to pay TV. Again, nothing with mass phenomenon and social responsibility. The subscription numbers of the rights holder will at least let the cash register ring there. We congratulate.

Professional football has engaged in an unholy alliance of windy investors, TV marketing and dubious player advisors in recent decades. Even corruption at the highest association level became normal. In Qatar, people are constantly dying for a World Cup that not a single football fan wants there. From a moral point of view, there is hardly any room left for the football business globally.

At the national level, too, the current approach is a fatal signal that is being sent to society. Many areas of public life are still severely restricted, while a lot of energy is invested in training and ghost games by Bundesliga clubs. Even though it is currently said on every corner that none of this has any impact on other areas of life (keyword: PCR tests), the fact remains that all other team and ball sports have ceased their championship operations and canceled their competitions.

“As a billion-dollar money machine and playground for some empires that can only survive if it is kept running. “No standstill at any cost” currently seems to be the general formula.”

With this special status that cannot be disputed away, professional football is increasingly saying goodbye to its base. Football is more than ever a popular mass phenomenon worldwide. It embodies exactly this symbiosis between players, coaches and fans, which can spark an energy like in no other sport. Even a number of players and coaches have now critically remarked that ghost games would develop “maximum test character” for them – in the awareness of this peculiarity of football. We can only underline that. Nevertheless, the round leather should roll on under sometimes insane conditions. Players should not run into the stadium together, but “fight” against each other on the field or wear masks during the game. These are just two examples of absurd ideas that are currently haunting around.

Another important aspect comes into play in this discussion: Football must be affordable for all social classes. The fan scenes of the individual football clubs have been vehemently campaigning for moderate ticket prices for years. And this is especially true in the current time when hundreds of thousands suffer from short-time work and unemployment. Due to the current situation, we have to temporarily adjust our request: The league, the clubs and all decision-makers have to ensure that for the time of this exceptional situation, every fan can watch all games without an additional subscription contract with a TV station. This service must be free of charge for current season ticket holders! The process is to be carried out by those who benefit from the fact that football was hidden behind the payment barrier, namely the league,

The Bundesliga and the ÖFB must now work together with the government on concepts for how football can be played in front of stadium spectators as soon as possible in accordance with health and legal requirements. Everything else is just a helpless attempt to keep an already sick system alive so that the football business can continue for a few. Especially for teams that are not currently playing in the professional field, ghost games are not even a sensible alternative even temporarily. In the third, fourth or fifth league, games without fans make no economic sense.

And as far as ideas from cardboard figures, fan apps or other pipe cracks in ghost games are concerned, we have only one answer: Anyone who wants ghost games should also be presented as the bare truth. Anything else would not be authentic and should therefore be strictly rejected!

It is high time to think about the general development of football. Now is the right time to take appropriate measures to make yourself less dependent on sponsors and TV stations. Perhaps this difficult situation is the chance to return to a healthier path. Football must become more independent again and say goodbye to this obviously broken business model. It is time to focus on those who are the backbone of football – the fans. Our support is certain for the people involved in this project.

Altacher Jungs – Block West – Fanszene Austria Klagenfurt – Fanszene Ried –Fanszene Vorwärts Steyr – Friends of the Friedhofstribüne – Gate 2 Admira –
Kollektiv 1909 – Landstrassler – Nordtribüne Lustenau – Stahlstadt Kollektiv – Tivoli Nord – Union ’99 Ultrà Salzburg – Vienna Supporters – Wolf Brigade 04 St. Pölten