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Industry

Fan ‘doubles’ make stadiums feel less empty

While the footballing world may be concentrating on the very brief life of the European Super League, one German team is focusing on its stadium without fans.

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The fan ‘doubles’ were produced using a rigid PVC substrate and the Fujifilm Acuity LED 1600 II

When the pandemic hit hard in early 2020, the world seemingly shut down over night. After a few months of lockdown, football was able to return in some capacity but without the fans. This is a sad sight and many clubs turned to wide-format print, graphics and banners to make their stadiums feel less empty.

Playing in the Bundesliga, the highest tier in German football, Borussia Monchengladbach turned to Copy Service in order to fill the seats with fan ‘doubles’. Typically offering posters, business cards and brochures, it was Copy Service’s ability to offer a wide-format service that allowed the firm to print these fan ‘doubles’ for less than 20 euros each.

Antje Jindrich, the owner of Copy Service, explains that the ‘doubles’ were printed using UV inks onto Forex, which is a rigid PVC substate, using the Fujifilm Acuity LED 1600 II. Monchengladbach fans were able to send in portraits of themselves and told the club where their ‘doubles’ wanted to be seated – most went for their regular perch.

They are one of many companies who had to adapt throughout the pandemic, not only to protect themselves, but to help restore some familiarity in a much-changed world

“The Acuity LED 1600 II was vital for this important project,” comments Jindrich. “We originally bought it because we were looking to expand into wide-format print and needed a high-quality and versatile machine to do so.”

Jindrich continues: “The Acuity seemed the most suitable model for this and we’ve been delighted with its performance. The past year has obviously been very tough for our business, and even aside from the pandemic there are other ongoing challenges.

“Print runs are getting ever-shorter and we’re seeing increasing demand for specialist, customised print work. Having a machine with versatility of the Acuity, as well as the excellent support from Fujifilm is hugely important to our continued success.”

In tandem with another company, Copy Service was able to produce 19,000 ‘doubles’ meaning that the Monchengladbach side were never really alone. Numerous other clubs around Europe and even in the Premier League have adopted a similar notion to have fan ‘doubles’ in the stands during the pandemic.

Copy Service has had to turn to other revenue streams to survive the pandemic

Nils Gottfried, product marketing manager, wide-format inkjet systems, Fujifilm Graphic Systems Europe, adds: “As long-time customers had to cancel orders, Copy Service found a unique way to support itself through the Covid-19 crisis. They are one of many companies who had to adapt throughout the pandemic, not only to protect themselves, but to help restore some familiarity in a much-changed world. We look forward to continuing to work with them, whatever the future holds.”

Printers and sign-makers across the world had to adapt to the changing times, and while some were able to work on the graphic, large-format banners and football fan ‘doubles’ for clubs, some turned to producing personal protective equipment (PPE). This included screens for shops, hospitals and now even for vaccination centres.

In England, 4,000 fans were able to watch the FA Cup semi-final match between Leicester City and Southampton, which saw the Foxes book their slot in the final with a 1-0 win. They will be joining Chelsea in the final, which will see 21,000 fans allowed to join the teams at Wembley on May 15th. This is just two days before the English Government is set to relax rules once more.

Monchengladbach on the other hand is currently seventh in the Bundesliga, with Bayern Munich needing one more win to clinch their ninth successive title.



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