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Polish football fans given green light to sit together

Polish football authorities have agreed to a plan that will allow fans to sit together at Ekstraklasa games from next week.

The plan – developed by Roboticket’s smart seat technology – will allow groups of up to six people who share a household and buy tickets together to sit together in the stands.

The group will be at least three seats and one row from any other supporters thanks to technology developed by Roboticket, which is partnered with four Ekstraklasa clubs, including Lech Poznan.

The plan means more people can attend games, with up to 35 per cent of seats able to be filled while still abiding by the two-metre distance incorporated into Polish law following the COVID-19 outbreak. While the Polish authorities announced earlier this month that up to 25 per cent of capacity could be filled at stadiums from June 19, it is understood the two-metre law would have restricted this to around 12-per-cent capacity.

Roboticket Smart Seat

The first use of the technology will be at Lech Poznan’s home game against Pogoń Szczecin next week at its 43,000-capacity Poznań Stadium. It is thought a crowd of around 10,400 will attend in a mixture of groups and fans sitting by themselves.

Tickets went on sale yesterday (Wednesday), with seats first available to season ticket holders, then those who attended a game last season, and then public sale. The Roboticket platform allows fans who buy through the public sale to still sit with fellow household members who are season ticket holders.

In a statement released to fans, Lech Poznan said: “Side-by-side selection is possible within one transaction, without the possibility of changing the location later. The ticket system will create the required safety buffer around selected locations with every purchase transaction.”

The Ekstraklasa club said it has been working hard since the announcement that fans can return to develop a system which will allow the maximum number of supporters to attend while also maintaining safety.

Daniel Zieliński, Lech’s ticketing department manager, said: “The club has prepared new functionalities in the ticket system together with long-time partner Roboticket. Together, we tried to introduce a number of facilities so that fans could feel safe at matches, supporting their loved ones. The dynamically changing situation required quick and reasonable solutions, adapting the ticket system to updated legal acts.”

Michał Pyda, Roboticket’s business development director, told TheTicketingBusiness earlier this month that it has been using technology it usually uses to ensure fans sit together to keep them apart to abide by the rules laid out by the authorities.

Pyda said: “The ‘orphan seats’ algorithm in our stadium visualisation engine really comes in handy right now. Normally, the mechanism helps improve the seat allocation density and prevent seat gaps. Today we made it to work completely on the opposite side to create gaps in order to maintain the social distance automatically.”

Main image: Lech Poznan