Brighton soccer friendly among pilot events for return of fans to British sport

  • Football
  • Thursday, 27 Aug 2020

FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Brighton & Hove Albion vs Everton - Amex Stadium, Brighton, Britain - October 15, 2017 Brighton's Anthony Knockaert scores their first goal REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Two thousand five hundred fans will be allowed into Brighton & Hove Albion's Amex Stadium for a pre-season friendly against Chelsea on Saturday after the British government announced pilot events for the return of spectators to elite sport.

Other football matches in the trial include a women's pre-season friendly at Lewes on Sunday, a Women's Super League clash between West Ham United and Arsenal and Non-League Finals Day.

Harlequins' Premiership rugby match against Bath at Twickenham on Sept. 5 will also allow fans in reduced numbers.

Bob Willis Trophy and T20 Blast domestic cricket matches are part of the scheme, which also covers horse racing, basketball and speedway events.

The government had cancelled the pilot scheme at the end of the last month due to a spike in COVID-19 infection rates.

The new phase of the testing programme began with the World Snooker Championship final in Sheffield on Aug. 15-16.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) hopes to test a range of different event styles, building up throughout September with a view to a full reopening for fans in October.

"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," DCMS secretary of state Oliver Dowden said in a statement.

"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."

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)

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