Brighton ‘to be first Premier League club to play match with fans’ in friendly

Brighton and Hove Albion look set to become the Premier League trailblazers for introducing a limited number of fans back into stadiums for matches.

No games in the division have taken place with supporters present since March due to the coronavirus crisis, but there are hopes that fixtures could go ahead with a reduced capacity at some point in the new season.

And according to The Times, Brighton wish to hold a pre-season friendly in the near future in which they will allow 2,500 fans into their 30,666 capacity Amex Stadium as a pilot event.

The ground is one of the more modern in the Premier League, having been opened as recently as 2011, and as well as football it also hosted Rugby World Cup games in 2015.

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The game could take place as early as this weekend, against as-yet unidentified opponents, while they are already eyeing up a second match involving further spectators in late September.

Meanwhile other potential events lined up as test events include the Women's Super League clashes between Manchester United and Chelsea on September 6 and West Ham and Arsenal on September 13, as well as the FA Trophy and FA Vase finals at Wembley later that month.

The government want a limited amount of fans to return to professional sporting events by October 1 at the latest, and the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) believe stadiums will be permitted to hold between 17-33 per cent of their normal maximum capacity.

However, things could change with a second spike, and any local lockdowns will also play a big part in the eventual decision whether or not to go ahead with events with fans present.

Many clubs will struggle to survive financially without match revenue coming in next season, and chairmen up and down the country are desperate to welcome at least some supporters back through the door.

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