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Bundesliga fans announce second silent protest of season

Bundesliga fans have protested Monday night fixtures before, throwing tennis balls onto the pitch in February 2018.

Influential supporters' groups of several Bundesliga clubs have announced a second silent protest of the season due to their opposition to Monday night fixtures.

The protests will go ahead despite the league's announcement to scrap the Monday night fixture from the 2021-2022, a source told ESPN FC.

The planned protests, which will take place during the first half of matches between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 and involve fans of clubs from the upper four tiers of German football, come ahead of the invitation to bid for a new domestic TV contract.

That weekend, Nurnberg will host Bayer Leverkusen in the first of five Monday night games in Bundesliga this term.

"The preparations for the bidding process for the TV rights are already in full swing," a statement released by the fans' groups said. "Our demands to all club representatives in the German Football League (DFL) are clear: Get rid of Monday night games and midweek kick-off times!"

Supporters staged a silent protest against ticket prices, kick-off times and treatment of supporters in late September.

At that time, a spokesperson representing the interests of various Bundesliga club ultras told ESPN FC that "large parts of the society are more or less excluded from professional football through sometimes absurd price hikes, adjustments to kick-off times for foreign markets and a reduction of standing area."

At Nurnberg's match on Monday night, the club's ultras have announced they will not only remain silent but also won't enter their terrace for the first 45 minutes of the game.

"This Monday night game against Leverkusen will especially be in the focus," the group wrote on their online outlet Yabasta.

On Wednesday, the DFL confirmed in a statement released on Twitter that from the 2021-22 season on Monday night fixtures will be abolished.

Those five games will instead be played on Sunday, the league said.

But a source close to the protests told ESPN FC that the supporter groups still plan to go ahead with the 45-minute silence to address a more general unease with the current developments in football.

In early 2018, Eintracht Frankfurt supporters took a stand against the fragmented kick-off times when playing RB Leipzig in the first Monday night match of the current TV deal.

They left the terraces before kick-off and surrounded the pitch to protest and then delayed the second half by throwing thousands of tennis balls onto the pitch.

A week later, Dortmund recorded their lowest Bundesliga crowd for more than 20 years when only 54,300 passed through the gates of the 81,360-capacity Westfalenstadion for the Monday night match against Augsburg.

That day, more than 350 Dortmund fans' groups stayed away to show their opposition to the Monday night games, and fan activist Jan-Henrik Gruczecki told ESPN FC that "we will not stop our protests until there are no more Monday night fixtures."

In June 2016, the DFL signed a TV contract for the period from 2017 through to 2021. It is worth €1.159 billion per season.

On Wednesday, German news wire dpa reported that Bundesliga clubs have agreed to abolish Monday night games for the new TV rights period from the 2021-2022 season onward.

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