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Standing fans facing Amex ban ‘for years’
Albion fans have been warned they could be evicted – and possibly banned – from the American Express Community Stadium if they resist demands to sit down during games.
Bosses at Brighton and Hove Albion claim there has been an increase in the number of supporters persistently standing during matches this season.
To avoid creating “unnecessary tension” and ensure the club meets Football Association rules, stewards have been told to ask fans to sit at quieter spells of games.
However, at the recent match between the Seagulls and Bristol City, three fans were evicted from the stadium after verbally and physically assaulting officials following the requests.
Paul Barber, the club’s chief executive, said any supporter who abused its officials can expect a ban from The Amex “likely to be measured in a number of years rather than matches”.
This, he added, was in addition to potential police action.
A letter about the issue of persistent standing was handed out to fans as they left the North Stand after Saturday’s match with Nottingham Forest at The Amex.
Mr Barber said: “As a club playing in one of the top two divisions of English football we are required to operate and compete in an all-seater stadium.
“Furthermore our ground regulations require us to ensure spectators do not persistently stand in seated areas while play is in progress.
“Clubs who do not comply with the regulations can face having their ground capacity reduced or receive a severe financial penalty – or both.”
Mr Barber recognised that the back four rows of the North Stand “would be treated differently” to the rest of the stadium, as was agreed when the ground opened last summer.
He said this meant requests to sit down would be less frequent.
Mr Barber also warned the club’s safety certificate could also be withdrawn if it failed to act.
In summary, he said: “We want a great atmosphere at The Amex and we want everyone to enjoy watching the match.
“However, it is important for everyone to please always remember and respect that we have a moral and legal responsibility to comply with our ground regulations.”
It comes in the week there was a debate in Parliament about reintroducing safe standing at football grounds in the UK after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Simon Oakley, of Seagulls Over Burwash supporters’ club, said: “It’s a North Stand problem and when they fill the corners in at the ground it could potentially get worse.
“To be honest when the club told people they could stand for longer periods of the match in the North Stand at the start of last season that sort of opened the flood gates.
“I’m all for safe standing to be honest. It would be great if we could bring it back.”
The Argus asked the club if the same laws would be enforced for away supporters but did not receive a response at the time of going to press.
However, some clubs whose fans persistently stand, such as Manchester United, Cardiff City and Leeds United, have had their ticket allocations to away grounds reduced.
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