Limited fans in Brighton-Chelsea pilot event



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Brighton vs Chelsea as test event with fans Aug 2020 Image: tripadvisor.com

Fans returned to the stands in England for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak in March this year, as 2,500 supporters were allowed at the Amex Stadium in Brighton (UK) on Saturday for Brighton’s friendly against Chelsea.

Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club – commonly referred to simply as Brighton – is an English professional football club based in the city of Brighton and Hove. They compete in the Premier League, the top tier of the English football league system. The English professional football club Chelsea also competes in the Premier League.

Fans at the Amex were seated in a way that respected social distancing protocol and were required to wear face covers at all times except when they were at their seat.

It was a small step towards normalcy after football around the globe was halted in March due to the global outbreak of the fatal respiratory disease coronavirus.

The Premier League, along with several other leagues in Europe, returned to the pitch in June but all matches were a closed door affair.

Saturday’s match at the Amex was part of a Government pilot run as the UK explores a gradual reintroduction of fans ahead of the 2020-21 seasons, which kicks off next month. Through this test event, the UK Government wants to gauge how sporting venues can cope with crowds while safety measures are still in place.

To keep the safety quotient high, a range of measures were in place including socially-distanced seating, random temperature checks and the enforcement of face coverings in concourse areas. Singing was not banned and the ‘Seagulls’ tried to make the experience as enriching as possible.

Brighton head coach Graham Potter was thrilled to bits over the return of his club’s supporters, though in a limited format.

“I thought it was a fantastic day – a small step to getting back to normal as soon as we can safely do so. It was so nice to see fans here because as we know it brings a completely different dynamic to the stadium and I thought they made a lot of noise and really got involved in the game. Hopefully, they enjoyed the performance as well,” Potter said in Brighton’s official website.

“I think people at the club deserve a lot of credit for the work that has gone in and hopefully it was the first successful step to a return to normal at some stage in the future,” Potter added.

The ‘Seagulls’ have also significantly scaled up their cleaning operations around the Amex for the game and sanitizing stations are available across the facility, including on ingress to all turnstiles.

Supporters were dissuaded from bringing bags to reduce need or time for searches.

Only the named owner of the ticket was permitted – with the transfer of tickets strictly forbidden – and photo ID was required on entry. All payments were in the cashless mode around the ground.

Though face masks were mandatory around the stadium, but NOT when fans were in their seat or while eating and drinking.

Irrespective of the fact whether they came in a group, every fan had to sit individually, with at least three empty seats between them per row.

Last month, the Government canceled a previous pilot scheme after a spike in COVID cases in UK.

Recently, there was a coronavirus outbreak in Chelsea and eight players are in quarantine. Though Chelsea has not commented on whether the players involved have tested positive or negative for the deadly disease, but media reports stated that there are a number of cases at the club.

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