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    Fans return to football: Brighton welcome 2,524 socially distanced supporters for a friendly against Chelsea two weeks before the new Premier League season begins

    • Pre-season game one of a number of pilot events by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport 
    • Some 2,500 spectators were made to keep a seat between them to uphold social distancing guidelines
    • There were hand sanitation points on the way through the stadium and face coverings were required
    • Brighton and Chelsea met at the Amex Stadium for a pre-season friendly, which ended in a 1-1 draw 

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    Brighton has welcomed 2,524 socially distanced supporters for a friendly against Chelsea as crowds returned to the game two weeks before the new Premier League season begins.

    Fans were made to keep a seat between them as they gathered at the Amex Stadium for Saturday’s friendly, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

    There were plenty of hand sanitation points on the way to the ground and face coverings were required – with many choosing to sport the Seagulls’ blue and white colours – as fans queued to get in, but not when seated. 

    Fans completed medical questionnaires ahead of the game and consented to tracking and tracing. 

    The pre-season game was part of a number of pilot events announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for a phased return of spectators following the ban on mass gatherings introduced in March due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

    While announcing the pilots, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said: ‘I know fans and their teams can’t wait to be reunited in stadia across the country but it’s imperative we take a cautious and phased approach to get fans back in safely.

    Fans were made to keep a seat between them as they gathered at the Amex Stadium for Saturday’s friendly, which ended in a 1-1 draw. The pre-season game was part of a number of pilot events announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for a phased return of spectators following the ban on mass gatherings

    The seating arrangements led to an interesting view in the stands as lines of fans were broken up by vertical lines of empty chairs. Digital match ticket was scanned for entry into the stadium, with cashless transactions at kiosks and there was signage reminding fans of the need to regularly wash hands

    The seating arrangements led to an interesting view in the stands as lines of fans were broken up by vertical lines of empty chairs. Digital match ticket was scanned for entry into the stadium, with cashless transactions at kiosks and there was signage reminding fans of the need to regularly wash hands

    When the action got under way, Chelsea - who have a number of players in quarantine after returning from their summer break and are following government guidelines on self-isolation - took an early lead after just four minutes

    When the action got under way, Chelsea – who have a number of players in quarantine after returning from their summer break and are following government guidelines on self-isolation – took an early lead after just four minutes

    ‘I’m pleased that infection rates have levelled off enough to resume the pilot programme and we will continue to work intensively with sports, medical and health and safety experts towards welcoming more fans back as fast as we can.’  

    The next pilot will be Lewes FC v London Bees, a women’s pre-season friendly, on Sunday. 

    At Brighton this afternoon, digital match ticket was scanned for entry into the stadium, with cashless transactions at kiosks and there was signage reminding fans of the need to regularly wash hands.

    The seating arrangements led to an interesting view in the stands as lines of fans were broken up by vertical lines of empty chairs. 

    The two-and-a-half-thousand spectators, all Brighton season-ticket holders selected from the club’s loyalty scheme, were dotted around giving a chequerboard effect to the East Stand, with a few in another section of the South Stand, behind one goal. 

    When the action got under way, Chelsea – who have a number of players in quarantine after returning from their summer break and are following government guidelines on self-isolation – took an early lead after just four minutes.

    Brighton had a chance to equalise five minutes into the second half after Lewis Dunk was pulled down by Antonio Rudiger to concede a penalty. Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga at half-time, saved Neal Maupay's spot-kick. Pictured, fans leapt out of their seats as the action amped up on the pitch

    Brighton had a chance to equalise five minutes into the second half after Lewis Dunk was pulled down by Antonio Rudiger to concede a penalty. Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga at half-time, saved Neal Maupay’s spot-kick. Pictured, fans leapt out of their seats as the action amped up on the pitch

    There were plenty of hand sanitation points on the way to the ground and face coverings were required - with many choosing to sport the Seagulls' blue and white colours - as fans queued to get in, but not when seated

    There were plenty of hand sanitation points on the way to the ground and face coverings were required – with many choosing to sport the Seagulls’ blue and white colours – as fans queued to get in, but not when seated

    Ian Maatsen of Chelsea during the pre-season friendly. Chelsea winger Ziyech, a summer transfer from Ajax, was substituted after seeming to have twisted his knee

    Ian Maatsen of Chelsea during the pre-season friendly. Chelsea winger Ziyech, a summer transfer from Ajax, was substituted after seeming to have twisted his knee

    Chelsea's Argentinian goalkeeper Willy Caballero saves a penalty from Brighton's French striker Neal Maupay during the pre-season friendly football match

    Chelsea’s Argentinian goalkeeper Willy Caballero saves a penalty from Brighton’s French striker Neal Maupay during the pre-season friendly football match

    Brighton boss Graham Potter hopes more fans will get the chance to see the team in action again soon. 'I thought it was a fantastic day - a small step to getting back to normal as soon as we can safely do so,' Potter told the club's official website'

    Brighton boss Graham Potter hopes more fans will get the chance to see the team in action again soon. ‘I thought it was a fantastic day – a small step to getting back to normal as soon as we can safely do so,’ Potter told the club’s official website’

    Timo Werner scored just four minutes into his first appearance for Frank Lampard's Chelsea. The Seagulls are set to host Chelsea again in their opening Premier League match on September 14, which is currently scheduled to be played behind closed doors

    Timo Werner scored just four minutes into his first appearance for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea. The Seagulls are set to host Chelsea again in their opening Premier League match on September 14, which is currently scheduled to be played behind closed doors

    Morocco international Hakim Ziyech, one of several new recruits, crossed for Callum Hudson-Odoi to knock the ball down and summer arrival Timo Werner slotted home.

    Brighton had a chance to equalise five minutes into the second half after Lewis Dunk was pulled down by Antonio Rudiger to concede a penalty.

    Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who replaced Kepa Arrizabalaga at half-time, saved Neal Maupay’s spot-kick.

    Chelsea winger Ziyech, a summer transfer from Ajax, was substituted after seeming to have twisted his knee.

    During the closing stages, Seagulls stand-in keeper Christian Walton had to be taken off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious ankle injury after falling following a corner.

    Brighton secured a draw in stoppage time when Aaron Connolly was fouled by Ethan Ampadu and Pascal Gross converted the penalty.

    Pascal Gross hammered home a penalty to bring the scores level in the 90th minute. Brighton secured a draw in stoppage time when Aaron Connolly was fouled by Ethan Ampadu and Pascal Gross converted the penalty

    Pascal Gross hammered home a penalty to bring the scores level in the 90th minute. Brighton secured a draw in stoppage time when Aaron Connolly was fouled by Ethan Ampadu and Pascal Gross converted the penalty

    The friendly was played in preparation for the return of the Premier League in September. Pilots have been introduced to see what affect crowds have on the spread of coronavirus

    The friendly was played in preparation for the return of the Premier League in September. Pilots have been introduced to see what affect crowds have on the spread of coronavirus

    Hakim Ziyech was substituted in the second half after injuring himself during a free kick. The Morocco international, one of several new recruits, crossed for Callum Hudson-Odoi to knock the ball down and summer arrival Timo Werner slotted home

    Hakim Ziyech was substituted in the second half after injuring himself during a free kick. The Morocco international, one of several new recruits, crossed for Callum Hudson-Odoi to knock the ball down and summer arrival Timo Werner slotted home

    The pre-season friendly was the first English football game since march to have 2,500 fans. The spectators clapped and cheered as the game got underway

    The pre-season friendly was the first English football game since march to have 2,500 fans. The spectators clapped and cheered as the game got underway

    The Seagulls are set to host Chelsea again in their opening Premier League match on September 14, which is currently scheduled to be played behind closed doors.

    Brighton boss Graham Potter hopes more fans will get the chance to see the team in action again soon.

    ‘I thought it was a fantastic day – a small step to getting back to normal as soon as we can safely do so,’ Potter told the club’s official website.

    ‘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.

    ‘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.’

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