On Saturday afternoon at exactly 5 pm, FC Groningen very surprisingly announced that Arjen Robben will return to the club where he started his career. Since then - and actually in the weeks before the news was shared - virtually nothing is the same in and around the club.
Marketing manager Edwin Froma proudly takes the figures for a moment: the news about Robben has reached about 220 million people and the video in which he announces his comeback has already been viewed on social media almost 2.9 million times.
"When I was unable to sleep well on Saturday evening because of my enthusiasm and was looking at all the messages received, I saw that they came from just about every country. Countries of which I sometimes barely knew the existence", Froma tells NU.nl .
"We are in a rollercoaster. We knew for a while that Robben would come, but something like that is always exciting. We were hoping to keep it strictly secret and surprise the people and I think it worked out well. We even had supporters on Saturday invited to surprise them first. "
Arjen Robben announces return to FC Groningen
The video that FC Groningen generated several million views on social media.
'Colleagues are on the phone non-stop'
Froma is responsible for ticket sales, merchandise and communication at FC Groningen and is busier than ever. "We had to prepare a lot. We made a video that convinced Robben and people went to Munich for a photo shoot and a video," he says.
"Furthermore, newsletters had to be sent, everything had to be made with the shirts and it is also very busy with ticket sales. The colleagues of ticketing are on the phone non-stop."
Shortly after the news about the arrival of Robben, the run on season tickets was so great that the FC Groningen website was equally overloaded. The number of annual tickets sold is now around 11,500 and the club is already looking at the top years with an oblique eye.
"If we could reach 15,000, I would be very happy," said Froma. "In the early years of the Euroborg we sold 15,900 season tickets, last season there were 9,700. So we are already far over that."
FC Groningen shares images 'legendary road trip' to Robben
"People want to belong"
The boost of Robben's return comes at an excellent time for FC Groningen; In mid-May, the club was still forced to fire employees as a result of the corona crisis. In addition to the season tickets, the shirts cannot be dragged on either.
"We are about to place an additional order," said Froma. "On average we sell five thousand shirts in a year, but now we are already on 1,600 orders, with size L sold out. Almost 1,200 of these are home shirts, 80 to 90 percent of which are printed. You can guess the name."
Furthermore, there is much more interest in FC Groningen from the outside than before. "There are all kinds of parties who approach us because they want to play a role, there are seven requests for a skybox; people want to be part of it."
Is Robben the savior of FC Groningen? "That is going too far. It was mainly because of our supporters and sponsors. They gave the first signal with their actions. We hope to be able to play with the audience again soon; we give our supporters minutes with Arjen Robben in the FC shirt. Groningen. "
See also: This is how FC Groningen seduced Robben to return