VITESSE ARNHEM kept themselves in fourth position in the Dutch First Division and on course for a Uefa Cup place on Wednesday with a 4-1 home win over NAC Breda.
The match was a major event in Arnhem - not because of the visit of humble Breda but because of the opening of their spectacular new stadium, the 26,600-seat Gelredome.
Like the new Amsterdam Arena, the Gelredome has a sliding roof so that it can stage concerts - the Spice Girls are booked in next week. Also like the Arena, the Gelredome has opted against the plain old guilder or the upcoming euro as its unit of currency. Fans buy goods with the Ohra, named after one of the sponsors. Originally intended to be one guilder, it has since been devalued to 50 cents to encourage customers.
The Gelredome also has one feature Ajax's Arena does not have: a retractable pitch. In three and a half hours, the whole pitch on its concrete panel can slide in or out of the stadium, to keep the turf in top condition while concert-goers can bop to their hearts' content. The lack of this feature at the Arena has seen the pitch damaged by revellers.
The Gelredome, which will be a venue for the 2000 European Championship in the and Belgium, cost pounds 3.3m. The Vitesse director, Hans Schraders, described it as the "most beautiful stadium to be built in Europe in the last few years". The club, whose average gate has been less than 8,000, have sold 14,000 season tickets for next season.
SHIMIZU S-PULSE began the new J-League season last weekend with a fine 4-1 win over the league newcomers Consadole Sapporo, thanks to a stunning performance by the 20-year-old Brazilian winger Alessandro Santos, who set up all four goals after coming off the bench.
Despite their side's bright start, this season will be the last in Japan for Shimizu's coaching team of Osvaldo Ardiles and Steve Perryman, the former Tottenham pair.
Ardiles signed a one-year contract with Shimizu last year to help keep the financially stricken club alive, but has said he wants to return to Europe in the autumn. When asked who he would like to coach, the former Spurs manager said: "Anyone." He added: "Last year, if I didn't sign, the club was going to collapse They were going to lose their players because, if I did go, everybody else would have gone too."