FC Groningen set to play final home game of the season behind closed doors due to safety concerns

After a conversation with Mayor Koen Schuiling of Groningen, both parties involved have concluded that FC Groningen will have to play without supporters in their last home match of the season. Also, Groningen fans won’t be allowed to attend this weekend’s away clash against Vitesse.

Last Sunday Groningen’s home game against Ajax had to be abandoned after 10 minutes due to supporters protesting against the board. Fans are furious with the disastrous season they’ve endured. This season Groningen have relegated from the top flight for the first time in 23 years. Supporters responded by throwing smoke bombs onto the pitch during play, and one man entered the field holding a heavily critical banner of the club’s board. The match was resumed on Tuesday and played behind closed doors. 

Sunday’s disruption wasn’t the first Groningen game abandoned this season. Last month Groningen’s home game against NEC was abandoned and resumed behind closed doors after a plastic cup was thrown towards an assistant referee.

Sparta Rotterdam are Groningen’s opponents on the final day of the season. They’ve had no influence in the decision to keep the Euroborg Stadion empty next week. Sparta aren’t pleased that their own supporters won’t be allowed to attend the final game of the season, but ‘Because of the inability to guarantee safety in the stadium, we understand the decision of the authorities in Groningen.’ 

In a statement on the club website, Groningen said ‘The club offers supporters the opportunity to be reimbursed 3/17 part of the season ticket and/or the full amount of a ticket purchased separately for the home matches against NEC, Ajax and Sparta. Supporters who were due to visit the away game with Vitesse next weekend will get their money back for the purchased ticket.’ 
The club also issued an apology to supporters. ‘FC Groningen offers its sincere apologies for an extremely unpleasant and turbulent season, in which especially the inability to play matches in front of their own public at Euroborg hurts.’ Sparta Rotterdam fans who had tickets for next week’s game will also be refunded.

GBeNeFN Hugo Hargreaves

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