Sports 28/04/2021

Measures for fans' return to Camp Nou

Only question is capacity authorised by La Liga and requirements of distance between fans

3 min
Leo Messi, contemplating the empty stands at Camp Nou

Barcelona"Every time suggested the possibility of opening Camp Nou, a new wave came and we had to let it be," Barça sources explain with despair. Now, however, more than a year later, welcoming fans back to the stadium has become a very real possibility. The Spanish government is favourable; it will now be necessary for La Liga and Catalan civil protection to give it the go-ahead. If all goes well, there could be fans in the stadium as soon as Saturday 8 May, when Barça host Atletico Madrid, a key duel to decide the championship, with a capacity of 25% (nearly 25,000 fans).

Barça is asking for caution and says no official communication has been received. However, they are optimistic. They explain that they are "prepared" and that as soon as they are given permission, they will open the doors. There will be a ticket lottery, access by time slots, groupings by bubble groups and allocation by zones and not in the seat that season ticket holders usually had. ARA has had access to the protocol that the club will use once the crowds are allowed back. It is a document that was initially developed for the Champions League game between Barça and Napoli, which the club has continued perfecting. "It's all prepared. They only have to tell us what day and how many people".

Ticket draw

Before the start of the season, Barça asked members if they wanted to keep their season ticket for this year or whether they preferred to give it up and not be charged. In this initial phase, only those who kept their season tickets will have access to the stadium. But as these outnumber available tickets, the club will make a draw between all the requests. The club believes between 10.000 and 25.000 fans will be allowed in.

Time slots

At the moment of acquiring the seat, Barça will specify what time each ticket holder should access the stadium in order to minimise the agglomerations. Access to the stadium does not worry the club nor to the authorities. On the other hand, they are more worried about the end of the match, especially as many fans usually leave a few minutes before the end. According to the protocol, the fans will have to stay in their seats until it is their turn to leave.

No antigen test

The first draft considered administering a rapid to test to fans on the way in. This proposal was considered positive because, "in addition to ensuring safer access, it also served as a mass screening to detect possible positives". in the end, the option has been discarded, mainly due to "logistical issues". They are considering taking attendees' temperature, and it is assumed that it will be mandatory to wear a mask at all times. These details will be determined by Procicat.

Bubble groups are allowed

"If someone goes to the stadium with a partner or a child, we will not make them sit two meters away," the club says. The protocol establishes that, as well as fans on their own, cohabitation bubbles will allowed. Supporters will have to supply this information when applying for the ticket and sign a document asserting, under their responsibility, that they live together. The club will be exempt of responsibility.

Different seats

Due to the restrictions and the obligation to maintain social distancing, members will not keep their usual seats. However, they will be in their usual area (side, box, first tier...). The fans will have to comply scrupulously with this rule. They will also be asked to avoid moving around the stadium, for example, to go to the toilet, if it is not strictly necessary.

Special software

The return of the fans is pending the approval of La Liga and the conditions that it will impose in terms of capacity and the distance between fans: how many seats and rows there should be between each fan. It is an extremely complex issue logistically. That's why the club has developed a computer programme which, once these parameters are included, will be in charge of distributing seats and cohabitation bubbles around the pitch automatically. The parameters will be modified as restrictions ease.

No catering

Another source of revenue for the club was the sale of food and drink, but right now "it seems unlikely" that La Liga would authorise it. Therefore, the club is working with the hypothesis that they will not be able to sell either drinks or food. It is also possible that neither eating nor drinking in the stadium is authorised, as it would involve removing masks. These details will be decided in the coming weeks.