Gameday guide: Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, RSC Anderlecht

Constant Vanden Stock Stadion

Opened: 1983 | Tenant(s): RSC Anderlecht | Capacity: 28,063

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History

An Anderlecht fan cheers the team on from the stands as Anderlecht clinch their 32nd league title at home to Zulte Waregem in 2013. Image credit: Sander Spek/Flickr

An Anderlecht fan cheers the team on from the stands as Anderlecht clinch their 32nd league title at home to Zulte Waregem in 2013. Image credit: Sander Spek/Flickr

Constant Vandenstock Stadion lies in the Anderlecht region of Brussels, Belgium, and is home to one of the country’s most successful football teams in RSC Anderlecht.

With Anderlecht gaining popularity in the early 20th century, it was decided that a purpose-built football venue would be erected on the border of Meir Park, later renamed Astrid Park and so in 1917 Émile Versé Stadium opened with one wooden stand.

The stadium would see the wooden stand replaced by a concrete one when the club gained promotion to the top flight in 1935, and further concrete terraces were added in the 1950s.

Émilé Versé Stadium recorded its highest attendance in 1980 when 38,349 people turned up to witness a 1-1 draw with Standard Liege.

That stadium would be completely replaced in 1983 with a ground named after Constant Vanden Stock, the president who presided over the club’s most successful period in their history, in which they won 26 major honours, including five European triumphs, elevating them to ‘European powerhouse’ status.

Constant Vanden Stock Stadion's exterior.

Constant Vanden Stock Stadion's exterior.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of the venues selected for use at UEFA Euro 2000 as it didn’t meet the 30,000 capacity threshold.

Despite a complete renovation in 2013 which saw the installation of new scoreboards and advertising boards around the perimeter of the pitch in accordance with UEFA regulations, Anderlecht are set to move to the 60,000-plus capacity Eurostadium upon completion, scheduled for 2019, where they will be co-tenants with the Belgian national team.

The venue holds over 28,000 people, with 6,900 of the capacity allocated to a safe standing section, although this is reduced on European nights due to UEFA regulations on safety and security.

Who are RSC Anderlecht?

The Anderlecht starting XI line up prior to a 1-1 draw with Galatasaray in Istanbul in 2014.

The Anderlecht starting XI line up prior to a 1-1 draw with Galatasaray in Istanbul in 2014.

Royal Sporting Club Anderlecht are a name synonymous with Belgian football. Playing in a distinctive purple and white strip, they were founded as Sporting Club Anderlechtois on 27 May 1908 by a dozen football lovers at a local café in the Anderlecht district of Brussels.

They won their first-ever game, beating Institut Saint-Georges 11-8, and soon after joined the competitive league system, earning promotion to the Belgian top flight for the first time in the 1920-21 season.

Over the next decade and a half, the club yo-yoed between the first and second tiers until securing a place in the top flight in 1935 where they have remained ever since.

Their first major honour came when, under the name RSC Anderlecht, the team pipped Royal Olympic Club de Charleroi-Marchienne to the 1946-47 Belgian First Division.

But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the club started hitting their stride on the path to becoming the most successful team in the country, winning the league five times in a row between 1964 and 1968, adding two league titles, four Belgian Cups, two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups and two UEFA Cups in the ‘70s which, in the process, saw them become the first Belgian team to be victorious in European competition.

Anderlecht added a UEFA Cup to their haul in 1983 and continued their league success into the new millennium, having won 13 Belgian championships and two Belgian Cups since 1991.

The club have also had a mildly successful academy, brining through stars such as Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and starlet Youri Tielemans in recent years.

Much like many teams from smaller footballing nations, the Purple & White have gone off the boil since the rebranding of the European Cup to the Champions League, but they remain competitive domestically and that doesn’t look like changing in the near future.

Getting to Brussels

Brussels is served by two airports – Zavantem and Charleroi. Zavantem is the bigger of the two and a base for Brussels Airlines, TUIfly Belgium and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium. Zavantem typically caters for international destinations and is the closest airport to the centre. To find out how to get from Brussels Zavantem Airport to Brussels, click here.

Charleroi is the secondary airport and a hub for budget airlines – in particular, Ryanair. Flights to and from this airport tend to generally be cheaper, particularly as it lies 45 minute south of Brussels, traffic permitting. To get from Brussels Charleroi to the city, it is best and cheaper to use the Brussels City Shuttle. Trains and taxis provide alternative forms of transfer, but are either less convenient or more expensive.

There are three major railways stations in Brussels-North, Brussels-South and Brussels Central Station with all serving a variety of domestic and international roots, with Central Station also providing a direct link to London and the United Kingdom on the Eurostar via Lille.

Coach travel is also a cheap way to get to and from Brussels, with tour providers such as Eurolines, OUIBUS and Flibco serving several destinations in and around Belgium.

Nestled between France and The Netherlands and with Germany providing a border to the east, Brussels is well located for a European tour and has plenty of great transport links. As a member of a Schengen area it is easy to pass through the borders of Belgium and its neighbouring nations which means that it is drivable. Go here to check out car rental options in the area.

Getting to Constant Vanden Stock Stadion

Brussels' Metro System is one of the best ways to get to the game. Image credit: William Murphy/Flickr

Brussels' Metro System is one of the best ways to get to the game. Image credit: William Murphy/Flickr

There are several ways to get to the home of RSC Anderlecht, which lies just over four kilometres south-west of Brussels city centre.

Public transport links serve the Anderlecht region well, and the closest Metro station to the ground is Saint-Guidon/Sint-Guido on line number 5 in the direction of Erasmus. This line passes through Brussels’ main railway station, Brussels Central.

Saint-Guidon/Sint-Guido is also a stop on the 81 service of the over ground tram network which runs between the Bara and Marius Renard stations.

A brisk walk would take just under an hour, but public transport is more convenient and reasonably priced, with single fares starting at €2.10. A full breakdown of the tariffs on offer can be found here.

Parking is available, but is restricted due to the stadium’s location right next to a public park. Driving to the ground isn’t recommended, but if necessary the Sat Nav address is as follows:

Avenue Théo Verbeeck 2, 1070, Anderlecht, Brussels, Belgium

Tours and merchandise

Merchandise is also available outside the ground prior to each match. Image credit: Sander Spek/Flickr

Merchandise is also available outside the ground prior to each match. Image credit: Sander Spek/Flickr

The club’s official store is located next door to the box office and sells a wide range of kits and club merchandise including scarves, posters and stationary. Printing services are also on offer, so fans are able to purchase personalised jerseys.

They also have an online Fanshop available in three languages, with delivery available throughout Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Great Britain.

Mannequins modelling Anderlecht's 2016/17 away strip at the official Anderlecht store.

Mannequins modelling Anderlecht's 2016/17 away strip at the official Anderlecht store.

The Fanshop is open Monday-Friday from 10:00 until 18:00 and on Saturdays from 10:00 until 14:00, with extended opening hours in July, August and December until 17:00. It closes on Sundays and public holidays On matchdays during the week and on a Saturday, the shop opens at 11:00 and closes an hour after the game, while on Sundays and holidays it is open two hours before the game and one hour after its conclusion.

Anderlecht do not currently offer tours of the facilities at Constant Vanden Stock Stadion.

Matchday experience

Unlike fans in some countries across continental Europe, Anderlecht supporters are friendly and non-violent for the most part, fitting in with Belgian fan culture.

Away fans should have little problem mingling with the home crowd and there are plenty of watering holes dotted around the residential side of the ground which, along with Astrid Park, surrounds the venue.

Alcohol is served both inside pubs and bars and out on the street which compliments Brussels’ jolly drinking culture, which helps create a nice and relaxed pre-match aura. Various food carts and stalls also sell a range of food including hot dogs, burgers and chips.

Vendors like the one pictured above serve fast food outside Constant Vanden Stock Stadion. Image credit: Sander Spek/Flickr

Vendors like the one pictured above serve fast food outside Constant Vanden Stock Stadion. Image credit: Sander Spek/Flickr

For Champions and Europa League, alcohol isn’t available inside the ground due to restrictions imposed by UEFA who believe “that alcohol and sport don’t match.” Although alcohol-free beer is available to purchase.

The atmosphere at Anderlecht games can be impressive, especially in the big games, with the standing section in Tribune 4’s lower tier where the hardcore fans tend to be. Tickets for other areas are assigned to a specific seat.

Tickets

Anderlecht are known to sell out some of their games, particularly high-profile clashes, due to having a sizeable following and limited capacity stadium. However, tickets for a lot of fixtures are available to purchase online. It is not possible to have online tickets outside of Belgium, but supporters can pick them up outside the ground on matchday.

There is also a box office located next to the official club store in Tribune 1 where people can purchase tickets, but be warned as some form of identification is needed, such as a driving licence or passport.

Visitors supporting the away side at Constant Vanden Stock Stadion will need to purchase tickets through their own club, while those wishing to buy tickets to watch Anderlecht play on the road need to be members of a supporters club which is registered with the supporters federation.

Tickets generally tend to range from €22.00 to €40.00, with discounts available to under-16s. Prices vary depending on opponent and competition.

For ticket enquiries, email the club at ticketing@rsca.be.

Safety

Military vehicles, like these ones pictured outside Brussels-North station, have been seen outside Constant Vanden Stock Stadion this season.

Military vehicles, like these ones pictured outside Brussels-North station, have been seen outside Constant Vanden Stock Stadion this season.

Due to the March 2016 bombings in Brussels, security in and around the stadium is heightened with military presence for the foreseeable future.

Although repeat attacks are unlikely, remain vigilant at all times as terrorists are prone to target large crowds of people.

Body searches and bag checks may be part of the entry process, so allow a few extra minutes to avoid being held up in queue.

In the case of European ties, away fans are sometimes required to get off at Aumale Metro station, which is one stop before Saint-Guidon/Sint-Guido. It is best to check with your club prior to travelling to make sure this is or isn’t the case.