The Dutch public broadcasting organisation, the NOS, recently published the results of a study into the efficacy of the current “away fans ban” at these so-called ‘high risk’ matches between perhaps the two biggest historical rivals in Dutch top-flight professional football (the Eredivisie). It concludes that not allowing away fans at games between Ajax and Feyenoord has been ‘a success’.
The situation was considered so serious that in 2010, when both teams reached the cup final, the decision was made to play the tie over two matches, one in Amsterdam (Ajax), and the other in Rotterdam (Feyenoord).
The ban on visiting fans has been in place for four years now, four years without major confrontations between both sets of fans. In addition, it is estimated that about one million Euro has been saved on policing the games. In 2008 some 400 police were called up for the games but by 2012 the figure had halved. According to the NOS, this represented a saving of 100,000 Euro per game.
Apparently the ban is also financially favourable for the clubs themselves. They no longer have to hire in crowd stewards and can sell more tickets since there is no need for empty ‘buffer’ sections between the home and away fans.
The ban on away fans during these big matches was introduced in 2009 after a series of feisty confrontations between the fans of both teams. This led to ever-increasing police costs. The ban measure is soon to be reviewed and the possibility of once again allowing the away fans to attend will be considered.
The mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, agrees that the cost savings are significant. “But football also has a social side: it’s not just about the money.” Aboutaleb was unwilling to give his opinion on whether the measure should be rescinded or not next year.
Meanwhile, Eberhard van der Laan, the mayor of Amsterdam, feels that the hard core Ajax fans have behaved themselves well of late, pointing to the league winning team’s recent victory celebrations which went off without major altercations. “I can only comment on Amsterdam, and I think things here are heading in the right direction.”
In the months leading up to the review of the ban, the main supporter groups of both clubs have had intense discussions with each other and other bodies aimed at rescinding the ban, possibly starting with a trial period to see how things go. The fans are worried that the ban will act as a precedent for all ‘high risk’ games, no matter which clubs are concerned.
Related NOS article link (in Dutch)