A Parliamentary hopeful has offended Albion fans by suggesting Falmer was the best site for a new stadium because it would keep "louts" away from Brighton city centre.

The furore over Mike Weatherley's comments came as it emerged police did not make a single arrest in or around Withdean on match days last season.

Sussex Police were celebrating the first "no arrests" season in memory, down from six in 2002/03 and nine the previous year.

Mr Weatherley, the Conservatives' prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, sparked outrage among pro-Falmer stadium campaigners by saying: "Living as I do in the middle of Brighton, on match days there is a definite increase in anti-social behaviour.

"After a match, fans will flood the bars and after a few pints violence then spills out on to the streets.

"Having the stadium at Falmer would keep these louts, who are not true football fans, in the outskirts of the city where they can do less damage."

PC Darren Balkham, one of Sussex Police's Albion liaison officers, said: "I can't really agree with that. On Friday and Saturday nights you'll have people drinking in the city centre, but I don't have any records of trouble being football-related.

"We do a lot of work with the supporters' clubs and Albion themselves to make sure Withdean is a safe place to go to and home and away fans have both been very well-behaved."

Paul Samrah, chairman of the Falmer For All campaign, said: "We don't need this sort of comment, which seems based more on a Seventies view of football supporters.

"The club and its supporters are regularly congratulated for their behaviour."

Roz South, an Albion season ticket-holder from Firle, said: "This is such a crass, ignorant comment for a political candidate to make. No one could ever accuse Albion fans of lacking passion but they channel it so well and are extraordinarily well behaved."

Mr Weatherley, a financial advisor for pop producer Pete Waterman, insisted he merely meant away fans and was full of admiration for Albion supporters.

He said: "I remember one time Millwall came down to Brighton.

"I was in a nightclub and a Millwall fan came in with a harpoon gun and panic ensued.

"We have a very vibrant weekend mix coming to Brighton for a number of reasons and I'm not sure we want to have 5,000 away fans traipsing back to the station from Sheepcote Valley.

"It's much better to have a football stadium next to a train station, as Falmer would be."

Brighton Kemptown MP Des Turner today said he would be happy to speak at the inquiry against the idea of a stadium at Sheepcote Valley.

He said Sheepcote was a former rubbish tip with methane problems, while residents had been promised the area would stay green and access was very poor.

David Lepper, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said Withdean Stadium was equally unsuitable with a capacity of merely 7,000.

One of the criteria by which John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, wants possible sites to be judged is room for a 22,000-capacity stadium and a bus and coach park.

Mr Lepper said: "In terms of capacity, Withdean wouldn't fit the bill. It's a non-starter because I don't think the site would be big enough.

"Withdean is ruled out anyway because the planning permission originally was on the understanding it was for a limited period until a permanent stadium was built."