Fans return for Brighton friendly but Chelsea players test positive for Covid-19
Fans will return to the Amex Stadium for the first time since March as Brighton welcome Premier League rivals Chelsea for a pre-season friendly this Saturday
The government approved the event on Wednesday afternoon and Brighton announced that season-ticket holders and some club members will be able to purchase a total of 2,500 tickets.
The announcement however came at the same time as a number of Chelsea players didn't return for pre-season training, having tested positive for Covid-19.
The club have not named the players but they will isolate for 10 days and must return a negative test before being allowed to join up with their team-mates.
Premier League clubs have seen a spike in cases since players returned from holiday. 14 positive tests have been recorded from the 12 clubs who returned to training at the start of last week, including Brighton, West Ham and Sheffield United.
Several measures will be introduced to fulfil government guidelines at the Amex Stadium this Saturday.
Fans will have to wear face masks when entering the stadium, but will be allowed to remove them once they are in their seat, or for eating and drinking purposes.
Supporters are to socially distance, and will be instructed to remain in the seat they are allocated to ensure a low risk of transmission.
Stewards can also carry out random temperature checks on supporters whose details will be stored in line with the government's track and trace system.
“When it’s been six months without supporters it feels like a long time," said Albion head coach Graham Potter, whose team will also play Chelsea for their opening match of the Premier League campaign on September 14.
“We obviously wanted the crowd back as soon as we can, but we also want it to be when everybody was safe and comfortable.
“Football without fans is a totally different experience – it was a shame our supporters weren’t there to witness the winning goal against Arsenal in June for example,” he added.
“It probably would have been an iconic moment at the stadium, but we know why that was and we’re looking forward to Saturday and continuing the preparations for the new season with at least some of our fans there.”
Brighton chief executive Paul Barber added, “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.
"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.
“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."
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