Fans agree not to jump at Magdeburg derby amid stadium concerns
The German third-tier derby between 1. FC Magdeburg and Hallescher FC is set to go ahead as planned on Saturday despite concerns the stands could collapse due to jumping fans.
It had been announced on Thursday that the match would be played behind closed doors following a "Nutzungsuntersagunsverfügung" -- a ban on the use of all stands in the stadium -- by the city of Magdeburg.
A preliminary expert opinion earlier this week had suggested that the stands could collapse if supporters jumped up and down or provoke panic if fans fell to the ground as a result of stadium vibrations.
On Friday, FC Magdeburg executive Mario Kallnik said that local building regulations authorities agreed to the club's package of measures to ensure the match against Halle can be played with spectators.
"With our fans, we have developed measures so we can play our games in our stadium in the future," FCM executive Kallnik told reporters, with local paper Mitteldeutsche Zeitung reporting that the Magdeburg fans will not have a coordinated support with a "capo" and drums in their main stand.
The city's mayor, Lutz Trumper, confirmed on MDR TV that "fan representatives have declared that they will refrain from jumping up and down" and therefore there is "no reason to play Saturday's match without spectators."
However, Kallnik did not rule out that the match might be abandoned if fans do jump up and down. Mayor Trumper clarified: "It's regarding a constant jumping, which leads to the stadium vibrating." He said it was important to separate that from "celebrating or one jump."
On Thursday, FC Magdeburg had been resigned to playing the derby behind closed doors, with club executive Mario Kallnik saying: "The measure to generally ban jumping on the stands can't be implemented in a home game with thousands of fans and spectators."
Mayor Trumper had criticised the club for the decision, telling local paper Volksstimme on Thursday: "I think it's fundamentally wrong. It's no solution. The club puts its existence at risk if they are to play without spectators from now on."
Magdeburg's stadium cost €31 million and was opened in December 2006. It has a total capacity of 27,250, with 4,800 fans allowed to stand.
In July this year it was reported that, because of jumping fans, the stadium's operational lifetime expectation was less than 18 years, rather than the 50 years initially expected.
FC Magdeburg were founded in 1965. They won the 1974 European Cup Winner's Cup and are three-time East German champions.
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.