German second division side Fortuna Duesseldorf unveiled a plan to make entry free for all home games, the club announced Wednesday.
Tickets for home and away fans will be free for “at least” three of 17 games in the 2023-24 season during a pilot phase.
The number of games without ticket costs will gradually increase, until tickets for all 17 games are free.
“When we gain more partners, we will have the opportunity to gradually replace (existing) ticketing” said Duesseldorf CEO Alexander Jobst.
“I can’t predict 100 percent how long it will take us.”
The plan is funded by a group of sponsors who have committed to pay 45 million euros ($49.7 million) over the next five years, with more expected to come on board.
“When we manage to have 17 games with free entry depends on how things develop. We have laid the foundation” said club’s financial chief Arnd Hovemann.
Jobst said on Wednesday the plan, named ‘Fortuna for everyone’ has been unveiled to “strengthen the club” while “anchoring first-division football in this city in the long term”.
The plan has also received the support of the Duesseldorf City Council, with Mayor Stephan Keller saying on Wednesday the plan could “trigger a revolution in professional football.”
The money received from sponsors will be shared across the club, the stadium and the city itself.
According to the announcement, 50 percent will go towards the men’s professional team, 20 percent to junior and women’s football, 20 percent towards digital infrastructure and a final ten percent to social and sporting projects in the city.
Thomas Kessen, spokesperson for German fan association Unsere Kurve, told AFP subsidiary network SID on Tuesday it “welcomed Fortuna’s idea.”
“We have been of the opinion for years that football should be for everyone.”
The idea is the brainchild of Jobst, who took over as club boss in January 2022 after administrative roles at Real Madrid, Schalke and FIFA.
Duesseldorf’s stadium, one of the host venues of the 2024 European Championships in Germany, has a stadium capacity of 52,200.
The club average attendance is around 29,000 this season, the fourth-highest in the German second division.
German football is considered more ‘fan-friendly’ than other major European leagues, as a result of a range of regulations aimed to preserve the connection between clubs and supporters.
The member-ownership model, known colloquially as 50+1, ensures member control of clubs and restricts foreign ownership.
Duesseldorf current sit sixth in the second division of German football, having won one German league title and two German Cups.
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