Some fans plan boycott of first game of new Czech football league season over ground-share

Eden stadium

The new league season in Czech football gets underway after the summer break this weekend. And the very first game of 2010-2011 could well take place in front of half-empty stands on Friday evening. Bohemians 1905 are hosting Slavia Prague, but both clubs’ fans are organizing a boycott of the game to protest the fact that they are now sharing the modern Eden stadium. It was built for Slavia, but it is now also Bohemians’ home ground, after they were forced to leave their traditional stadium about a kilometer away.

Eden stadium
In May, the management of Prague’s Bohemians 1905 club signed a five-year ground-sharing contract with the owners of the modern Eden stadium, home of local rivals Slavia.

Bohemians fans are still mourning what looks like the irreversible loss of their beloved Ďolíček stadium. The old-style ground in Prague’s Vršovice district was closed down due to a state of bad repair when the season ended.

Slavia fans, too, are not amused by the fact that they will soon be sharing their team’s home. And so some fans of both clubs have teamed up and organized a boycott of the season’s first derby between the clubs on Friday evening. They are to meet in front of Eden stadium prior to the match. From there, they will march together to Ďolíček, Bohemians’ home for almost 80 years.

Filip Šebek, a die-hard Bohemians fan, says he will be attending the game rather than the boycott.

“Finally, with my friends, we decided that we will support our team, our players, because it’s not their fault that they have to play in Eden. For example, we have one song which we sing during the matches, which says that Bohemians will be forever and we will be with them everywhere, also in Eden, which of course all of us hate and we’d prefer to play in Ďolíček.”

Some fans believe that the actual reason behind the closing of the old Bohemians stadium is the real estate value of the ground it is on, and that its main stock holder, the CTY group, plans to build apartments there in the future.

This big business angle is the reason many Bohemians fans are planning to boycott games at Eden, though they continue to support their team and have started collecting funds to cover the renovation and save Ďolíček. David Young is one of them.

Bohemians stadium,  photo: archive of ČRo 7 - Radio Prague
“For me it just feels a little bit, after having supported football in England for so long and seeing it taken over by big business, I see the same thing happening here. I just feel like big business is pushing the little guy around and I don’t feel like being abused like that.”

For now, it looks like the future of Ďolíček is uncertain to say the least. Earlier this week, in an interview with Mladá fronta dnes, Bohemians 1905 president Lukáš Přibyl said that negotiations between the club and the CTY group on the future of the stadium had come to a standstill during the summer months.