German lessons in how to treat football fans

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You don’t know you’re living in a cave until you leave it.

And by cave I mean watching football in England and by leaving it I mean watching football in Germany.

The main difference is German clubs see fans as an integral part of everything they do, rather than in England where supporters are often viewed as a revenue stream to be squeezed dry.

A couple of friends and I went to watch Nuremberg play Hannover in Germany’s second division.

The game was played at the 50,000 capacity Frankenstadion – a stadium which compares with the best in England.

Here’s the main differences.

1. Our tickets cost £13, around one third of what you’d expect to pay to watch a Premier League game.

And, like in many German cities, your match ticket doubles as your ticket to use public transport on the day of the game – fewer cars, less congestion and loads of trains ready and waiting on the final whistle.

2. Safe standing.

There’s two steps then a barrier, so only one person can ever stand in front of you or behind you.

The system is well stewarded so there’s never any overcrowding. It works.

3. Beer, the Germans are rightly proud of their lovely beer and drink it like we chug water.

Unlike English football matches, you can have a beer while watching the game.

In other words, treated like an adult.

4. Ultras. Hardcore fans who live and breathe the club.

Hannover had one guy with a megaphone and another with a massive drum who got everyone going – for 90 minutes, unlike their team on the day.

5. The players. I’ve been going to football for 30 years but that day I saw something that blew my mind.

After the final whistle it’s a tradition that German teams thank their fans by celebrating with them (Nuremberg did a lap of honour after a run-of-the-mill 2-0 win).

Hannover’s ultras beckoned their beaten players over and they trudged over like naughty children who’ve been told to apologise, and the fans told them exactly what they thought after making the 600-mile round trip to watch a such listless performance.

The players apologised there and then.

They won their next game 6-1 and haven’t lost since.