Albion will make club history when they return to action, whenever that might end up being.

Whatever the success of Project Restart, it now seems clear their next match will be played behind closed doors.

That will make it a first in the club’s almost 120 years.

Club historian Tim Carder has confirmed Albion have never played a competitive fixture behind closed doors. But it is a close-run thing.

For four months in 1996, it seemed almost certain the Seagulls would play a league game with the Goldstone turnstiles closed.

That was during what are known as “the war years” as fans fought for the future of the Goldstone Ground and indeed the whole club.

Tim says the closest they have ever come to playing behind closed doors was probably during that time.

Fans angry at decisions being taken by the club’s owners stormed the pitch when their side hosted York City in April, brought down the goalposts and forced the game to be abandoned after just 16 minutes.

Contrary to what the fading memory might tell you if you were unable to get to the re-staging, the match was NOT eventually played behind closed doors.

Instead, a kick-off time of 11am on a Thursday was decreed to deter fans from turning up but 2,106 still got there to see what proved to be the final Albion appearances of Dean Wilkins, John Byrne and Ian Chapman.

The initial sentence from the FA for that pitch invasion, handed out for failing to control spectators, was three points deducted and one match to be played behind closed doors.

That penalty, announced on August 16, was suspended pending good behaviour by fans.

As feelings ran high, it seemed clear that perceived “good behaviour” was not an option and the suspended sentence would be activated at some point.

It happened after another invasion in a match versus Lincoln the following October, sparked by Bill Archer’s televised rejection of the Dick Knight consortium’s approach to take over the club.

But, when the verdict from the FA came, the penalty was ‘only’ two points and there was nothing about a game behind closed doors.

That announcement came on December 9.

Tim said: “I suppose the threat of a game behind closed doors hung over the club from August to December, 1996.”

There have been games when the attendance was very low, for instance when fans boycotted a fixture versus Mansfield in November, 1996, and the official attendance was just 1,933.

Crowds also plummeted during the two-year exile at Gillingham, though the turnouts were still creditable in the circumstances.

But, as yet, there is nothing in Albion’s history where fans have been excluded.

Dan Ashworth, the club’s current technical director, was with the FA when England played Croatia in an empty stadium in Rijeka due to misconduct by the host nation’s fans.

Ashworth said: “I think probably the biggest challenge for the players is the psychological one.

“You play friendly games, you play training ground games. Players do them fairly regularly where there is hardly anyone there.

“What changes is you are obviously in a big stadium, rather than a training ground game or a small stadium.

“They will have played in front of zero spectators or very few spectators before.

“It just seems to be magnified when it’s in a very large stadium.

“It takes a bit of getting used to because you can hear the ref, you can hear what the players say, and there’s the odd swear word comes out.

“You can perhaps hear a few more interactions from the bench over to the players that you wouldn’t normally hear.

“That’s probably the biggest change, that you can hear quite a bit more of what’s going on between the players and the coaching staff.”