Paul Barber is hopeful of seeing fans back at the Amex before Christmas.

And he says their return will not be a moment too soon.

Albion finished the 2019-20 campaign playing behind closed doors and will start next season in mid-September the same way.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently gave real hope that some fans could return from October.

But that will remain in the balance as the Covid-19 situation is closely monitored going into the Autumn.

The days of full stadia still appear to be a long way off.

Albion deputy chairman and chief executive Barber said today: “I would like to think we will have some fans back in the stadium before Christmas.

“Whether we can put a percentage on that just yet, I’m not so sure.

“It is very much in the hands of the government and of course we have seen, even in the recent couple of days, how quickly things can change when the virus starts to flare up again in certain places.”

Barber told BBC Sussex: “It is very difficult to be precise but we are on a journey with the government, with the health authorities, with all of our own operational staff here to build a plan that brings fan back to the stadium as quickly as we can, providing it is safe for them to do so.

“For me, that won’t be a moment too soon because we have missed them and we have missed the support they provide to us.”