Premier League club Brighton will host their English football top-flight rivals Chelsea on Saturday and their pre-season friendly will be staged as a pilot event with 2,500 spectators to be welcomed at Amex Stadium.

The British government has announced on Wednesday a further batch of sporting events that will be used to pilot the safe return of spectators. Brighton’s friendly with Chelsea on Saturday will be the first football match playing as a pilot event in England, followed by a women’s football pre-season friendly in Lewes on Sunday.

“It’s a big opportunity to demonstrate to the government and public that we can stage an event safely. It is the first small step to a return to normal,” said Brighton club’s chief executive Paul Barber.

A total of 2,500 tickets will be available to Brighton’s season-ticket holders and club members. As part of the COVID-secure stadium arrangements, face coverings must always be worn at the stadium on a matchday, unless sat in a seat or while eating or drinking. Random temperature checks will be in operation. Supporters must socially distance and ensure they only sit in the seat allocated to them.

All mass gatherings have been suspended in England since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic before snooker, football, cricket and a few elite sport events resumed in June behind closed doors. Fans are expected to return to stadiums in October if the pilot events go well.

The Premier League will start the new season on September 12.

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