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Brighton’s Amex Stadium opening for fans

Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion FC is set to welcome 2,500 fans to the Amex Stadium for a friendly match against Chelsea this Saturday.

Tickets are being made available to Brighton & Hove Albion season-ticket holders and 1901 Club members for the pre-season friendly against Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium.

The government approved the event on Wednesday afternoon, and the game is the stadium’s first to include fans since lockdown commenced in March.

As this is not a league fixture, tickets will be sold to season-ticket holders and 1901 Club members in priority windows, based on loyalty points.

To conform with the government’s track-and-trace rules, booking a ticket for this match requires fans to ensure their personal and contact details are all up to date, and they have provided the club with a current working mobile phone number.

Several significant changes have been made to the stadium and operations to fulfil this test event, in line with government guidelines.

  • Cleaning operations and sanitisation has been scaled up significantly.
  • Sanitising stations will be available across the stadium, on entry to all turnstiles, the store, near catering outlets and within toilets.
  • In line with government track and trace, the named owner of the ticket must be attending the match. The transfer of tickets is strictly forbidden.
  • Named photographic ID must be shown on entry and must match the name on the ticket. Entry will not be permitted without your photo ID and match ticket being verified.
  • The club will no longer be issuing tickets on club ticket stock – tickets will be available as print at home, or by loading tickets to Google Pay/Apple Wallet, to reduce touchpoints and meet safety requirements.
  • All payments in the stadium will be cashless. Contactless payment is preferred and can be made by mobile phone/credit/debit card.
  • Face coverings must always be worn at the stadium on matchday, unless sat in a seat or while eating or drinking.
  • Supporters must socially distance and ensure they only sit in the seat allocated to them. Supporters are not permitted to move seats at any time.
  • To reduce the need or time required for entry searches, supporters are discouraged from bringing any bags to the stadium. For those requiring a bag the maximum size permitted is A4. Please note there will be no bag storage facilities available.
  • Random temperature checks will be in operation. Please be prepared to comply with stewards’ requests to check your temperature prior to entry to the stadium.

Any supporters who is currently required to quarantine under government guidelines, or who shows any symptoms of Covid-19, must not attend the match.

Supporters are advised to read our new Supporter Code of Conduct before booking tickets.

Club chairman Paul Barber says Saturday’s game against Chelsea – the first match in England with fans present since March – is a ‘first small step to a return to normality.’ He said:

It’s a big opportunity to demonstrate to the government and public that we can stage an event safely. It is the first small step to a return to normal.

Inevitably, because it’s a pilot, we will be testing how the procedures we are putting in place have worked and if they don’t why and what we need to do better.

The DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) and the Premier League have been incredibly supportive throughout this process. Like ourselves, and every club in the football pyramid, they want us to be back to normal as soon as we can and we’re taking the first steps towards that on Saturday.

It has been six months since the Amex last staged a match and the club have undertaken exhaustive work behind the scenes to be able to stage Saturday’s friendly. Barber added:

We want to strike that balance between ensuring we comply to the guidelines around things like social distancing and making it an enjoyable football experience.

In many ways it’s about building confidence and trust again for supporters because this will be a different matchday to the one they are used to because safety and minimising risk are obviously very important.

Barber estimates that Albion lost a seven-figure sum for each of the five Premier League games played behind closed doors to complete last season and the same financial pressures are being felt by clubs throughout the country. He said:

Going forward those sorts of losses at even the biggest clubs are not sustainable, and then there is the loss of non-matchday revenue as well.

Our business is playing in front of full stadiums and the sooner we can do that – providing it is safe to do so – the better. Saturday will be a small crowd but it’s an important psychological step and hopefully it will be a success and other clubs can pick up the mantle.