Neat and compact, the Jan Breydelstadion is the ideal ground for a town the size of Bruges. Shared by Club and Cercle Bruges, revamped for Euro 2000, the Jan Breydel will never match the business-class sheen of Anderlecht’s Parc Astrid – and nor would any local ever wish it to.
Nevertheless, plans have long been afoot for Club to build a 40,000-seater stadium outside town, the potential site being Blankenbergse Steenweg some 4km north of the city. With the red tape slowly lifting from the project, and mayoral backing, Cercle will be left to create their own blueprint to reduce capacity at the Jan Breydel from 29,000 to 12,000 and set aside other parts of the ground for commercial and corporate use.
For the first three-quarters of the 20th century, Club and Cercle Bruges played in very modest neighbourhood grounds. In Club’s case, it was first the Ratteplein, then the Albert Dyserynckstadion, which everyone knew as De Klokke. This tatty, plain but much loved venue on Torhoutse Steenweg held 15,000 supporters in little comfort – but few cared once Club slowly began taking on the big boys at home and abroad.
Before the boom of the mid-1970s, when both Bruges clubs were facing financial difficulties, then mayor of Bruges Van Maele hit upon the idea of having a municipal stadium built in which both clubs could play. It would be the perfect stage for each to perform, and solve financial worries.
In 1975, the city council built the Olympiastadion, and it was opened that August. Within a year Club were in the UEFA Cup final. Built to a very simple design, with two stands along the pitch and terracing behind the goal, the Olympiastadion enjoyed a complete overhaul 25 years later in time to host Euro 2000.
As well as a thorough modernisation, the ground was renamed the Jan Breydel after a local war hero. Now all-covered, all-seated, the Jan Breydel holds 30,000 fans comfortably – with a fierce atmosphere for games with Anderlecht, Liège and on European nights.
Blok 19 in the North, Kirk (‘Church’) End (Tribune 2, access on Olympialaan) is favoured by Club fans – unless Club are playing Cercle, in which case Club fans take the South, Bad (‘Swimming Pool’) End (Tribune 4, access Doornstraat). Access for the East Stand, Tribune 3, is via Koning Leopold III-laan.
From Perron 1 at Bruges Sint-Pieters station, bus Nos.5 (to Hermitage) and 15 (to De Prange) take about 10-15 minutes to reach the Kerk stop by St-Andries Church.
It drops you, conveniently, right by the row of pre-match bars and chip shops. Cut down Olympialaan further ahead (or the cemetery, immediately opposite) and the stadium is ahead of you.
Tickets & shop
Club and Cercle have their own bars too – though you’ll also find the Olympus terrace bar/restaurant tucked away on the other side of the ground from them. There’s a branch of Extra-Time inside the ground, too.
At the hub of bars on Gistelsesteenweg by the Nos 5/15 bus stop, De Chalet (No.530) probably stands out, its menu including pasta and ‘seasonal’ omelettes. Coffee comes with a cornucopia of treats: a thick slice of Swiss roll, a toffee and a shot glass of extra-thick eggnog. Adjoining Den Comptoir and the Jan Breydel have varying opening hours.
Here, too, you’ll find the incomparable Frituur Carlos, the finest pre-match chippie, in the same family since 1963. When poor Carlos passed away in his sleep 40 years later, Pascal took over, leaving aga-making in Wrexham to cook chips. But what chips they are!
Diagonally opposite are the ’T Stadion Frituur and Italian restaurant Carlito’s.