Johnny Cantor: Supporters are the lifeblood of the game

After the heroics on the pitch at Hillsborough last weekend, much of the talk has been about the fans. This week we brought you the news that Brighton & Hove Albion have begun to look at the possibility of installing limited safe standing at the Amex.

Albion fans pictured at the opening home league game of the season against Nottingham Forest. Picture: Phil Westlake
Albion fans pictured at the opening home league game of the season against Nottingham Forest. Picture: Phil Westlake

The issue was debated on BBC Sussex Breakfast and I think consideration from government, club officials and of course the fans will continue over the coming months and probably years.

It is such an emotive topic that it certainly requires detailed assessment. The supporters and their safety should always be at the heart of everything. They are the lifeblood of the game.

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The atmosphere at home games at the Amex has been talked about considerably in the stands, on BBC Sussex and in this paper but I believe the noise from all around the stadium this season has picked up.

Safe standing may help in the future but cannot be relied on. Our BBC Sussex summariser Warren Aspinall has also picked up on the chanting of Seagulls fans away from home and they never cease to amaze us.

Last weekend, ahead of the historic win against Sheffield Wednesday, I spoke to chairman Tony Bloom who said he wanted the win for the fans above all. Then I spoke to Paul, a ‘displaced’ Albion fan, who now lives in Yorkshire and his son. Paul had managed to convince his son to support the Seagulls above a local team despite his obvious northern accent and the potential ribbing from his friends.

I often see and speak to families who cover the country to follow their team and I adore the family bond amongst generations that sport provides and long may it continue. The comfort of seats and fun activities at the Amex before games has enhanced the experience for younger fans, while older supporters benefit from excellent accessibility.

There used to be a small thrill when I watched football with my dad as I grabbed his leg amongst the swaying throng but I was too young to know the danger. I also was grateful at a game when he convinced a steward to allow us into the main stand when I was soaked through. That seat felt so good and I remember it now 40 years on.

Hopefully there is a solution for all, young and old, home and away. Credit must go to the Albion for considering all options so early and they have often been at the forefront of stadium developments during their time at the Amex.

Next week when we return to action I look forward to hearing more voices giving us their views on the subject. You too can join the debate.

Johnny Cantor covers Brighton & Hove Albion as a commentator and reporter for BBC Sussex Sport.

Follow all the action, home or away, on BBC Sussex Sport or Twitter: @BBCSussexSport or @johnnycburger

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