WITHOUT a win for the Albion in 10 games, Sunday afternoon’s encounter at the Amex against Barnsley takes on even more significance.
And not only on the pitch, but off it. I would imagine all of the detractors will have an eye on Sunday’s attendance figure as the circumstances really do throw up a challenge.
The mindset and the routine of the football at Championship/Premier League level has changed forever.
Gone are the days of going to matches on spec, as my dad and I did for the first time back in April, 1973, and handing over cash at the turnstile.
Everything is pre-planned. Non-season tickets are purchased well before the day of the game, while season tickets are paid for by direct debit, almost forgotten in the general hustle and bustle of life.
It makes me wonder how many season ticket holders will be missing on Sunday because of the change in the day?
I was talking to an Albion diehard this week, who was still waiting for a kick-off time for his son’s game on Sunday at Pagham, knowing full well that anything post 12.30pm is going to mean at least two empty seats at the Amex.
And, how many other season ticket holders will be affected by the same reason, or simply have other commitments on?
A simple answer is sell your tickets on for the one-off game or even give them away. Unfortunately, with all the best will in the world, Barnsley are not big box office. Numerous other games would have all-but sold-out at the Amex, regardless of the day or time, we’ve seen that already, but not the Tykes.
It’s all well and good trotting out the “if you build it, they will come” line but gates, regardless of stadiums, are equally as dependent on the weather and results.
I’ve no doubt that if the Albion were on a winning run and were up there challenging with the pacesetters, other than the away end, there would hardly be a seat to be had on Sunday afternoon.
I still hope that’s the case, but at the very least a crowd of 17,500 would be acceptable given the circumstances.
And, for new fans that don’t go, dubbed in certain quarters as JCL’s (Johnny Come Latelys), for no other reason than they don’t fancy it, perhaps the Amex honeymoon period is well and truly over?
l Perhaps a change in day for Brighton will work in favour of Worthing, who entertain Didcot in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy at Woodside on Saturday, with a 3pm kick-off.
If the game is half as good as the home game in the previous round, which saw the Rebels beat Bashley 4-2 in extra time, after going behind in the 87th minute, then it will be money well spent at the turnstile.
I know of at least one supporter who sat at home earlier that night and said “do I stay and watch a game on Sky or spend £9 watching Worthing?”
Thankfully, he ventured out, and was rewarded with the entertainment Chris White’s men offered up.