Bundesliga club Union Berlin offer to pay coronavirus tests for season ticket holders

Bundesliga club FC Union Berlin are so keen to see their stadium filled with fans again that they are prepared to pay for coronavirus tests for all staff and 22,012 season ticket holders.

Most of the world's sports stadiums have been all but empty for months since the coronavirus forced social distancing regulations that have prevented large crowd gatherings.

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Germany's Bundesliga resumed playing matches in May, but with strict distancing rules that restricted attendance to just a handful of officials, reporters and camera operators.

But Union, once the leading club of Communist East Berlin and now the arch-rival to West Berlin's Hertha, are planning drastic measures to see their Old Forestry stadium occupied once again.

"Our stadium experience doesn't work with social distancing, and if we aren't allowed to sing and shout, then it's not Union," club chiarman Dirk Zingler said in a statement late on Friday.

"To implement such a plan is an enormous organisational and economic challenge," the club added. "We as a football club will carry the costs of implementing the necessary measures ourselves."

Coronavirus tests cost around $40 in April, but prices have been falling and available quantities rising as the world gets to grips with the pandemic.

By testing all staff and season ticket holders, the club could ensure that only people who are not carrying the virus come into contact with each other.

Supporters would have to show a ticket and a negative test result less than 24 hours old on entry. The plan has yet to be approved by city authorities.