If the authorities prohibit spectators from playing in the Bundesliga, they have to pay for the clubs’ revenue. This suggests legal expertise.
In the fight against the corona virus, more and more football games are played as “ghost games” without an audience. Most recently, the Frankfurt Health Office undertook a “reassessment of the infectious disease situation” and decided to let Eintracht’s Europa League match against FC Basel take place without fans. To slow down the spread of the coronavirus, All Bundesliga games will also take place this weekend without spectators.
This was preceded by the recommendation from the Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) and the Robert Koch Institute to cancel events with more than 1000 visitors due to the epidemic. More and more local authorities are now following this. Even though no club has yet publicly called for the corona crisis: there are already debates in the background about who is responsible for the loss of revenue.
According to the Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) there are a number of ambiguities regarding liability issues in crises such as the spread of the coronavirus. Therefore, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) should now process the current cases. Then clear guidelines for this should be issued. Merkel said on Wednesday at a press conference.
Spahn said the Infection Protection Act was not entirely clear. However, those who would now have significant economic losses due to the absence of a major event should not be left alone. Spahn mentioned, among other things, restaurateurs or craft businesses, set up the exhibition stands. If they were supported, decisions to cancel an event might be easier. The federal and state governments should also adopt a uniform approach here, Spahn said, referring to the meeting of prime ministers in Berlin this Thursday.
Legal expertise suggests that the clubs have good chances of still getting lost funds. “Associations that are affected by the bans are probably entitled to compensation,” says Andreas Graef from the BDO Legal law firm. He advises football clubs and service companies that are affected by current developments.
“Every club can hold games,” explains lawyer Graef. “But if an order is issued by the responsible authorities that a game can only take place in camera, the court before the courts to prevent a decision to close is theoretically open.” In view of the short lead times and intensive coordination with the security authorities in the event of one short-term stadium opening, such an approach is out of the question for practical reasons.
The basis of the bans that have now been passed are the provisions of the Infection Protection Act and the additional relevant provisions of the State Police Law. In both there would also be a passage for compensation in the event of a measure ordered by the authorities.
For the successful assertion of payment claims according to the regulations of the police regulations law, the use as a “non-interference” is decisive, explains jurist Graef. This is “not responsible”, but is still used under certain conditions. In such cases, the damage suffered by measures taken by the regulatory authorities must be compensated for.
Graef refers to a ruling by the Hamburg Higher Administrative Court in 2012. At that time, FC St. Pauli was prohibited from providing guest cards for the football game against Hansa Rostock. The court assessed the economic interests of St. Pauli and the interest of the visiting club Hansa Rostock in support from the supporters as subordinate to the considerable risks to public security that would arise if tickets were sold.
However, the judgment also states that it should be taken into account that the claimant is entitled to “appropriate compensation if requested upon request as a non-interference person”.
For Graef, the case is clear: “If an organizer cancels a trade fair or concert on his own initiative, he gets nothing. Anyone who is forced to cancel can apply for compensation in individual cases. “How high this is is difficult to measure. “But it should be relatively close to the loss of revenue,” says the lawyer.
The sports policy spokesman for the CDU / CSU parliamentary group, Eberhard Gienger, called for financial aid for insolvency-prone clubs and sports-related companies with a view to Corona on Thursday. “In addition to the spectators, the athletes, the clubs and the organizers, many sports-related service providers are also affected,” said Gienger.
The further development and the extent of the consequences are currently difficult to assess. Uniform guidelines for action are necessary. This would have to be worked out by the large sports umbrella and specialist associations in coordination with the federal government and the responsible federal states and offices.
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