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Villarreal’s Estadio de la Ceramica reforms caught in controversy amid anger from Real Madrid fans

The new design creates more obstructed-view seats for away fans

The view from the away end
@ChrisArriero / Twitter

Villarreal have now played two matches at the remodeled Ceramica ground, and while the experience for the home supporters may be improved, that for the fans who sit in the away section has not been - in fact, it’s been the subject of many complaints.

Spain doesn’t have the tradition of traveling to support your team at away matches that is common in England—most grounds, even in the Primera, typically provide a small area for visiting supporters, and a few hundred (at most) show up. In large grounds like the Mestalla in Valencia, the away fans are typically way up in the nosebleed seats; even in smaller grounds, they are often allocated an area in a corner of the ground.

Due to the history of the club in Europe, playing numerous “high-risk” ties against other European clubs, and the difficulty in separating supporters from each other outside of the ground, Villarreal has had an away stand—really, a portion of a stand—that is designed for away supporters.

It’s basically an upper ampitheater on top of the north stand that is accessed separately from the stand below and is used for visiting supporters attending “Category A” matches in the Primera and European ties, and was built when Villarreal qualified for the Champions League in order to meet UEFA requirements for segregation of spectators.

It’s never been a great experience inasmuch as you are up—way up—above the ground and fans watch the match through a clear plexiglas window running all around (this was added after a notorious tie against Zenit back in the ‘noughties) but the latest rebuild has created additional problems.

Originally, as you can see in the top picture here, the stand was quite open, particularly on the southeast side; now, because the stands on either side have been enclosed with roofs and horizontal support beams for these run along the base of the away stand, the whole thing is quite claustrophobic, not to mention that seats on either end of the away stand have very little view of the proceedings, as the roofed stands on either side now create viewing obstacles.

It’s asking a lot for visiting fans to shell out top dollar—er, top euro—for this experience!