Brighton chief executive retains hope fans could return to grounds this season

PA Sport Staff

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber is hopeful supporters could return to stadiums before the end of the season.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out a road map for how the UK will come out of its current national lockdown on Monday.

Fans were last allowed into sports grounds in December, and when spectators will next be welcomed into venues should become clearer next week.

Supporters were last allowed into sports grounds in December (Mike Hewitt/PA)
Supporters were last allowed into sports grounds in December (Mike Hewitt/PA)

Speaking at Wednesday’s Financial Times’ Business of Football event, Barber said: “We are hopeful that we might see a small number of fans back by the end of the season.

“But realistically we are preparing for the worst and them not coming back.

“There are a number of issues. There is going to be the issue of confidence, even when people have received the vaccine, not everybody will take the option of having it, and in terms of fans coming back in large numbers and getting to and from the stadium.

“There is the financial issue, too. A lot of people have lost their jobs so that is going to have some impact on season ticket and matchday sales.

“And then were are set to face some form of government restrictions, whether that is in terms of limited capacity or social distancing.

“But there is a huge demand for people to get out of their homes and see live events, and in particular live sport. The opportunity for them to come back and watch a game in a stadium is significant.

“For us, it can’t come soon enough but it has to be done when it is safe to do so.”

It emerged this week that the Football Association and EFL are in talks with the Government about fans returning for the Carabao Cup final and FA Cup final at Wembley.

Tottenham face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on April 25 with the FA Cup final due to take place on May 15.

From Our Partners