Ballot to decide who attends Brighton games when fans can return

Brighton have a ballot system in place in preparation for the return of fans to the Amex Stadium.

Brighton and Hove has a relatively low number of weekly coronavirus rates in England, meaning the area should be in tier one or two when Prime Minister Boris Johnson lays out his post-lockdown three-tier system on Thursday.

That means the Seagulls will be able to welcome 4,000, or at the very least 2,000 spectators, when they host Southampton on December 5.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Chelsea – Pre-Season Friendly – AMEX Stadium
Brighton held a successful pilot event in August (Adam Davy/PA)

Chief executive Paul Barber said: “We’ve been working a ballot system for some time and fans will be able to opt into the ballot, or opt out, if they don’t feel comfortable yet to come back to football.

“But, obviously, with such a small number of tickets, we expect the demand to be very, very high.”

Brighton were one of the first clubs to hold a test event in August before plans to get fans back were put on hold amid a spike in the disease.

There were 2,500 fans present for the pre-season friendly between Brighton and Chelsea at the end of August.

The restricted attendances in a ground which holds more than 30,000 means many supporters will be left disappointed.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Molineux
Paul Barber, centre, says Brighton have an allocation system in place (Nick Potts/PA)

But Barber added: “The one thing throughout this pandemic that has impressed me has been the patience of supporters – not just of our club but right across the country.

“I think people recognise it has been a very difficult time for everybody, not least football clubs, who have been trying to play matches behind closed doors and maintain all of the normal matchday protocol that our players have to go through, but do so without our fans in the stadium to provide that great atmosphere and support the team.

“This first step of getting 2,000 or 4,000 people back is a small step but an important one, and an important one for the fans as well.

“We want to bring them with us. We’re not going to be able to fit everybody in, everybody knows that.

“People will be genuinely delighted that we’re on the path to bringing more fans back, perhaps sooner than we might have expected.”

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