Brighton and Hove Albion to be the first club to host fans

Brighton and Hove Albion are set to become the first Premier League club to include fans in their plans on matchday, as a part of a scheme of upcoming test events approved by the UK government. Football in Britain took off behind closed doors since June 7, with only essential personnel permitted to witness the games as part of the social distancing guidelines to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures have cut down the risk of passing on the virus to a massive extent but have also caused severe financial problems, specifically on clubs which rely primarily on matchday income as a major revenue stream.

The Times report that the government is working on a plan that would permit up to 2,500 fans into the Amex Stadium for an unspecified Brighton’s pre-season friendly in the next week. The reason why Brighton’s ground has been chosen is that the Amex’s modernity is commendable and it also has a reputation of being efficiently run.

The Women’s Super League match between West Ham United and Arsenal (on 13 September) and the FA Trophy final at Wembley (20 or 27 September) are also incorporated on the list of games for the ‘fan return pilot scheme’. 

The government has set the date of 1 October for the allowance of limited spectators to all sporting events, with social distancing requirements being taken care of. The Premier League fixtures are still not seen as a part of the scheme, with the new season kicking off on September 12.

Once spectators are allowed, stadiums are expected to be filled only to a quarter or third full, in order to successfully follow social distancing. However, away fans will be strictly prohibited for the 2020-21 season and the season ticket holders are kept ahead of everyone in terms of priority. 

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