Anderlecht – Arsenal, the Untold travel advice

By Walter Broeckx

So we have a match coming up this week  that was looked upon with great anticipation from our supporters club in Belgium when it was announced: Anderlecht. So here is our Untold take on all and everything involved in this match.

Let us start with some geography. Anderlecht is one of the 19 municipalities in the Brussels-capital region. The part of Belgium where the two biggest languages are (or should be) treated in the same way: Dutch (the Flemish version) and French. We also have a German speaking minority in Belgium situated at the border with Germany.

So first the story outside football a bit.

When the draw was made and Arsenal ended up in the same group as Anderlecht our supporters club was in heaven. A dream draw. We saw already images of the whole group (almost 100 paying members) taking our places in the visitors’ end of the Constant Vanden Stock stadium.

This dream lies on the floor shattered in to a thousand pieces. Or well at least 100 pieces. One for each of our members. As the official supporters club of the country we were playing in, the liaison person told us that we would be seen as a very important partner.

But then came the worrying news. Anderlecht was very hesitant in stating how many tickets Arsenal would get. And from the originally hoped for more than 1000 we heard numbers going down to around 750. Now we still don’t know the exact number but it seems to be very low.

For some reason Anderlecht and the Belgian authorities were not really keen on having too many Arsenal supporters in town for this match. And so I think they took all the reasons they could find to give Arsenal fewer tickets than we hoped for and maybe we were entitled to. Safety measures can be one reason to deduct the number of tickets for visiting fans and I think Anderlecht used this.

Also the Brussels police is not that keen on having English supporters too near to the ground. So for this reason we have to warn you once again that if you come too near to the ground and don’t have a ticket the police will arrest you. So for Arsenal fans travelling to Brussels without a ticket it might be safe to stay in the centre of Brussels and don’t go near the stadium.

So after our first joy at finding Arsenal playing in Belgium, came the fear. We were thinking about getting fewer tickets than hoped for. But the longer it took the more we started fearing for the worst case scenario: getting no tickets at all.

And so it ended. The dream became a nightmare. As the allocation was so small Arsenal decided to distribute the tickets only to the travelling members of Arsenal. A decision that we are not happy with at all. As you can understand.

But when you have hardly anything to give away (=sell of course) it is hard to please all the people who want something.

We have heard that the lower tier of the visitors’ end will not be used for this match. And that would have been the difference between us visiting or not. So if you see a big gap behind the goal on the right hand side in the lower tear: that is where we should have been.

Of course I can understand that the authorities in Brussels are not that happy with an English team visiting Brussels. I think we can say a (sarcastically) thank you for the idiots from Liverpool who stormed the Heysel Stadium 29 years ago. It left a trauma that still is lying upon football in Belgium.

And in that way I can understand that the police are not really looking forwards to it. Also the Anderlecht supporters do have their dark elements that cause troubles every now and then. As with most teams most supporters are reasonable if you meet them but they are one of the clubs that bring some trouble when visiting some other clubs. Most of the time when playing Club Brugge or Standard.

So they will do all they can to avoid confrontations as much as possible. With giving fewer tickets to Arsenal supporters and with keeping Arsenal supporters away from the ground when they have no ticket.

I wonder if this is something that also is happening in England? Can the police arrest you as a visiting fan when you don’t have tickets and come close to the stadium? Well they can in Belgium since the Heysel tragedy and the football law came in to place as a result.

[In England Section 60 of the Criminal Justice Act can be used to gather together any group of people where the police believe that there may be a risk of a public order offence.   This could be a gathering of football fans without tickets.  The police are then allowed to hold people in an area (known as kettling) search them, taken personal details and photograph them. – Tony]

But whatever the reason and the thinking of Anderlecht, Arsenal and the Belgian-Brussels authorities might have been the final result is we got no tickets for this match.

Leaving us very frustrated. Our main concern now is that we hope that we can take our members over to London and give them all at least one Arsenal match this season. I hope Arsenal will make up for the missed chance to help our new board to more members by giving us extra tickets for the second part of the season.

People have asked us where we would meet in Brussels. But the thing is that apart from people who live in Brussels nobody likes to go to Brussels. We have a very strong hate relationship with our capital. Certainly in Flanders where most of our members come from.

And our board decided (also bearing in mind the police instructions) not to go to Brussels at all for this match. Most of us are not really acquainted with the area and we could walk too close to the stadium without even knowing it. So no Brussels for us as a supporters’ club. We will meet in another town for this match.

Those English supporters who come to Brussels and who don’t have a ticket we can only advise to stay away from the stadium and to watch the match in the sports pubs that are located in Brussels. Near the Bourse there is one that I know. There are a few others and if you google “Irish pubs Brussels” you can find them.

Not one of them is close to the Eurostar station so it will take you a walk to get there or use the transport system to get there. The good thing is that they are all in the different direction than the stadium when you come by train. So you probably will not have the chance to be arrested.

Next article we will talk about what really matters: the sporting side of Anderlecht.

The index to recent articles etc is here

16 Replies to “Anderlecht – Arsenal, the Untold travel advice”

  1. Walter,
    Not sure why the Brussels police are worried about we Arsenal supporters coming to their fair city. Most of us are only coming for the chips, beer (and buying choccies for the little lady back home).

  2. Nicky,
    I must say I also can’t understand this. In our away travels in Europe our members of our supporters club have never seen any real troubles with Arsenal supporters. Arsenal supporters in general are well behaved as far as I know. Of course you will have the odd person who behaves like an animal but this are more or less isolated persons.
    I personally have never seen any troubles with Arsenal supporters in Belgium, Holland or Germany.

  3. Guys, if you go to Brussels may i suggest an cafe called Arcadia at the en of Hubert and just across the road, a few lovely beers in La Morte Subite.

  4. Walter I’m very sorry to hear about the lack of tickets for Belgian Gooners and concerned that the authorities might consider Arsenal fans to be trouble. If Anderlecht are restricting the number of tickets available to away fans I only hope we reciprocate (750 away fans in the Emirates is going to look a bit silly).

    by the way I have answered your comments on the food (chips) article and Nicky’s questions about beef…

  5. Walter, sorry to hear you will be unable to go. It is a shame the Belgian supporters trust are not able to see a “home” match if you like. I suppose they’ve taken the easy option and reduced allocations for all english clubs fans rather than treating clubs individually. I would hope that would be the reason rather than the authorities and the club seeing our fans as trouble.
    Hopefully you and your members are supported in being able to come over for a game soon perhaps the Anderlecht home match!

  6. Walter,
    May I suggest a small addition to your second paragraph?
    “… Dutch (the Flemish version) and French” could have (the Walloon version) added.
    Anyway, I cannot make it to Brussels; I hope all untold arsenal members have a great one.

  7. Walter,
    Dumb question:
    Why did you not use some trickery to buy tickets as a neutral, if possible?
    Or as an Anderlecht fan? And, I am not implying “une histoire Belge” at all.

  8. Ray,
    Because Anderlecht only sells tickets to people who can prove that they bought tickets in the last 3 seasons. or you should buy a “season ticket” for the CL covering all 3 matches. 2 of which I am not interested at all and would never go to the stadium as Arsenal is playing at the same time.

    And it is not really a healthy thing to go and sit between the home supporters….

  9. I agree with blacksheep that Arsenal should provide 100 tickets, deducted from the away allocation, for our official Belgian fan club and lay on coaches for their travel too. It must be difficult sustaining enthusiasm in another country and a little patronage like this could only help.

  10. I’m guessing it might have something to do with Arsenal fans letting off flares outside Stamford Bridge recently. But that’s just a guess.

  11. And for those who come over: don’t forget a raincoat and umbrella. Stormy weather over here

  12. Guys, any information about which Brussels’ hotel will arsenal stay in? I’d like to cheer them if possible.

  13. Walter,
    I see your point. My only flirtation with Belgian soccer was a lukewarm liking of Eric Gerets (the player, not the coach) when he was with Standard Liege. As a teenager, I also liked the colors and the unique name of R W D Molenbeek, but I have never really liked Anderlecht. Of course, everybody loves Enzo Scifo, Frankie Vercauteren, Jan Ceulemans… But I played defense as a teenager in the seventies, so I always liked players like Eric Gerets. Georges Grun came a decade later.
    I was dismayed at what the Standard fans did this last weekend, especially in a country like Belgium, as I assume a better behavior in a provincial city like Liege.

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