While our International Ground Guide is undergoing some maintenance, we thought we’d provide our usual service of advice and information for travelling supporters in brief blog form.
Once up and running again our ground guide will cover all manner of information from travel options to hotel advice, eating and drinking suggestions to practical tips on getting around, along with safety and security advice and anything else we think will be of use to travelling supporters.
In the meantime, while the below might not necessarily have all the information you’ll be after if you’re heading out to Switzerland, we’re always available to help – just drop us an email if you have any questions.
We’ll do our best to find out what you need to know, either from our own vast experience in covering England and Wales games abroad, or from our friends at Football Supporters Europe.
About the Club
The club was formed in 1893, after an advert placed in the Basler newspaper. One of their early captains of the club, Joan Gamper, went on to found FC Barcelona. While not quite as successful as the Spanish giants, Basel are one of the most successful clubs in Swiss football, having won 12 domestic titles.
The club were most successful in the 60s and 70s, and suffered relegation in 1987. They returned to the top flight 1994, and have now established themselves back at the top of the league, regularly qualifying for European competitions.
Basel’s main rivals are FC Zurich and Grasshoppers Zurich, and the rivalry sometimes spills over onto the pitch.
In 2006 there was a pitch invasion at St Jakob Park following a late goal scored by FC Zurich which handed them the Swiss title at the expense of Basel, who were attempting to win the title for the third season in a row. Fans fought with opposition players and police, and the club were fined and had to play their opening matches of the following season behind closed doors.
The rivalry with FC Zurich is seen to be more fierce than that with Grasshoppers, although that is largely down to the relative success of the two sides over recent years – they are typically battling it out at the business end of the season for silverware, heightening tensions.
About the Stadium
The ground is located on the south bank of the Rhine, east of the main medieval town centre. It is easily reached by tram and bus, and is close to major roads, too.
The simplest way to get to the stadium is by tram, using line no. 14. The number 36 bus also runs past the ground.
The stadium is located adjacent to the A2 main road, and is a fairly long walk from Basel’s SBB (south train station). We’d definitely advise taking the tram, rather than a taxi. We’ve been told these will run up extortionate fares compared to the cheap and easy public transport, and trams also have right of way around town, so will likely be quicker than a taxi anyway!
The view in the picture above shows the sorts of views you can expect from the away end at St Jakob Park, and in the ground plan further below, the away sectors are marked B1 and B2, at the bottom left of the plan.
About the City
Basel sits in the north west corner of Switzerland, and the town actually shares borders with both France and Germany.
The river Rhine flows through the town and divides it in two – the south and west bank of the river is known as Grossbasel (or Greater Basel), which includes the old medieval town centre. Kleinbasel (or Little Basel) sits on the north/east banks of the river, and is more modern, and features more bars/nightlife than the old town.
As for language, the locals speak a variant of German, although being so close to France you’ll find that a lot of people will understand some French, too.
Most of Basel’s sights are located in the old town, and are all easily reachable on foot. The Basel Munster, or cathedral, is located just off the main square, Marktplatz. Built between 1019 and 1500 it’s a striking piece of architecture, and you can pay a small fee to climb the tower for some excellent views over the town.
Marktplatz still holds markets 6 days a week, selling fresh food and flowers, but is at its busiest on a Saturday morning rather than through the week. The Rathaus (town hall) is also located on the Marktplatz, and guided tours are available. If you don’t fancy paying, then you’re still allowed to have a wander round its courtyard for free.
Some of the gates to the old medieval city still remain – constructed after the earthquake of 1356 you can find the old fortifications at Spalentor (take the no.3 tram Barfüsserplatz in the towards Burgfelden Grenze), at St. Alban Tor, near Aeschenplatz (by taking the no.3 tram towards Birsfelden), or at St. Johanns Tor, near the Rhine, by taking the no.11 tram towards St. Louis Grenze.
Of course you’ll have to take a walk along the Rhine, too.
If you’re into your art, then Basel has the museums for you. In the city centre you can visit the Kunstmuseum Basel (found at St. Alban-Graben 16), which features a large permanent collection of Picasso, as well as renaissance art from the likes of Holbein.
If you prefer your contemporary art, head to the Museum für Gegenwartskunst (St. Alban-Rheinweg 60) around ten minutes walk from the main museum.
The Antikenmuseum Basel, across the road from the Kunstmuseum, houses a large collection of Egyptian and Greek art and antiquities. Or, for big kids, you could try the Puppenhausmuseum Basel, which is full of teddy bears, doll houses and other related items. Get along to Steinenvorstadt 1, at Barfüsserplatz, to find out more.
Basel Zoo is also reasonably centrally located, and is the second largest in Switzerland. Monkeys, elephants and all that, can be found at Binningerstrasse 40.
Getting around town, if not on foot, is best done using the city’s cheap public transport network of trams and buses. Daily tickets can be bought for around 8CHF (about a fiver) and you can hop on and off as you please.
Swiss ticket inspectors police the public transport network, and there is a zero tolerance policy on those without tickets – we’d advise you not to risk it, because there are hefty fines if you are found bunking on the tram. You’ll be marched to the nearest cashpoint, or possibly police station, and forced to cough up 100CHF.
The tram is definitely the best way to the ground, and we’re told that there’ll likely be extra trams laid on for the match.
Eating and Drinking
Basel is home to over 1000 restaurants, and just about every cuisine from around the world can be found within the town. The local cuisine forms a mix of the best of French, German and even Italian cooking.
The excellent Basel Restaurant Guide is your best bet for finding your way around the city gastronomically. It even includes helpful interactive maps, which we definitely recommend you have a look at before you get there.
It wouldn’t be an FSF Guide if we didn’t recommend a few drinking dens and spots to grab a bit of grub, however, so here goes.
Zum Roten Engel on Andreasplatz is a great spot to stop for a light bite during the day, and the food is pretty cheap, too.
Cargo Bar at 46 St Johanns-Rheinweg offers a lively night out, with live music 3 nights a week. A lovely spot down by the riverbank, it’s one to check out. If you’re looking for something hip and trendy, visit Eoipso on Dornacherstrasse, which is a converted factory complex that now houses a great bar. They serve Basel’s own Unser Bier (literally Our Beer) on tap, which is worth a try.
You’ll likely pay around £3.50-£4.00 or so for a pint in most bars in Basel.
Even in Basel, you can’t escape the curse of the English/Irish bar. And there’s more than one, so expect to see these places full of replica shirts come matchday.
McGuinness’s Irish Pub can be found not far from the station on Elisabethenstrasse, and the Nelson Pub is not far away, in the town centre on Rümelinsplatz. Both offer up the tradition fare of pub grub, familiar beers and probably a load of crap all over the wall, to boot.
Mr Pickwick’s has its own website to peruse before you land in Basel, and they can be found at 13 Steinenvorstadt.
Of course, if those three aren’t to your taste, then you could always try Paddy Reilly’s Irish Pub, which describes itself as “a genuine Irish pub; Irish owned, Irish managed and Irish staffed, excelling in all the traditions of an authentic Irish pub”.
We think it’s an Irish pub, but we’re not quite sure they’ve made it clear.
Thanks to Pengster for the image used in this blog, reproduced under Wikimedia Commons.