Why 4,000 Brighton fans at the Amex Stadium is very welcome but financially damaging

So as I write this column it appears, subject to government verification, in a mere 10 days up to 4,000 could be at the Amex watching Brighton vs Southampton on Saturday, December 5

The Amex Stadium held a trial with 2,000 supporters during pre-season against Chelsea
The Amex Stadium held a trial with 2,000 supporters during pre-season against Chelsea

To be honest, somewhat earlier than I thought some of the Albion faithful would be back in their seats, but I certainly won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

However Albion CEO Paul Barber was quick to stress that whilst it’s great news fans will be returning, reduced capacities will effectively see match days run at a loss for clubs and ultimately this will only be sustainable in the short term.

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Having helped stage a number of testimonial matches at both the Withdean and the Amex, there are fixed match costs, regardless of how many people are in the stadium, 4,000 at the Amex unfortunately won’t even scratch the surface.

So the club will sincerely hope, as do the rest of us, that 4,000 very quickly turns into, 8,000, then 10,000 - although I don’t think we will see a capacity crowd at the stadium till at the very earliest August 2021.

But one of the things this wretched virus has indirectly proved is that football at all levels is nothing without supporters. Many would argue that supporters back into stadiums needs to come before money?

To clarify that, clearly as a business the Albion, like all the other clubs, have to balance the books. It may come to a point where matchday losses at the Amex could be absorbed if the first team squad took significant wage cuts in short term.

In the week that it appears MP’s are all set for a wage rise, it’s a big ask for the Albion players. Then again, the supporter argument clearly adds legitimacy to the suggestion.

But back to the pitch, and as predicted in last week's column, the Albion recorded a hard fought win at Villa Park for the first time in the club's 119 year history.

There were numerous talking points from the 96 minute rollercoaster, so in no particular order:

Jack Grealish, an exciting player, almost a throwback to the footballing mavericks of the 1970’s, but went down so many times on Saturday on two occasions I thought he’d been shot.

Tariq Lamptey, fast becoming the second best player to ever pull on an Albion shirt after Mark Lawrenson, an extremely harsh sending off for two yellow cards, but in the grand scheme of things a huge learning curve in his development as a complete footballer.

The VAR penalty controversy in added time, unfortunately what we’ve all signed up for now, and as predicted in these jottings a couple of weeks ago, when full capacities are back in grounds, there will be a VAR incident that will start a riot.

But on to the weekend, and the arrival of Liverpool at the Amex.

Jurgen Klopp already playing mind games, ‘sending Albion the points’ whilst moaning about fixture scheduling. Classic stuff and frankly I expect nothing less, that said after a superb result last week, I fancy the Albion to get a point, 2-2.