Every team will be given a boost when fans return.

Not just those whose supporters will be cheering them on.

That is the view of Paul Barber as clubs around the Premier League prepare to open the gates.

Albion hope they are in tier one or two – ideally the former – when Boris Johnson reveals the new anti-Covid framework by the which the country will run as lockdown is lifted.

Clubs in tier one areas can welcome 4,000 fans into their stadia, those in tier two can have 2,000.

Those in tier three will have to keep the stadia closed – and there are Prem clubs who that could affect.

It would be pretty mean-spirited for fans of those clubs who cannot admit fans to complain that others can see their team.

To moan about a sporting advantage because some teams can have 2,000 or 4,000 supporters backing them.

Barber has explained why he believes there is no need for that to happen.

Albion’s chief executive and deputy chairman said: “I can only refer to the test event that we had back in the summer and speaking afterwards to Frank Lampard about how energised his players were, how it felt to be back in front of fans even though they were Brighton fans and not Chelsea fans.

“They at that time just enjoyed being in front of 2,500 people.

“They got their own energy from that.

“There’s going to be some partisan fans that are shouting more for our team, but hopefully the atmosphere of the game that we have been missing so much will benefit everybody.”

He added jokingly: “Hopefully us just a little bit more than our opposition!”

Some basic aspects of etiquette will be in place if Albion get the go ahead to welcome the public.

They include the obvious hand sanitising and social-distancing.

Fans will also be asked to turn their faces away from each other if crossing paths in a narrow area.

Those going down steps – from the upper areas of a stand, for example - will give way to those coming up.

But Barber dismissed any suggestion that singing and cheering will be banned.

He said: “You don’t want to take people’s enjoyment away of coming to the game.

“If they turn up and behave exactly the same way as they might in their own living room, for example, what’s the incentive for them to come back to the game?

“We want them to enjoy themselves, feel as if they are back at a live sports event again and therefore a light touch with the stewarding, a light touch with the rules and regulations, as far as it’s possible, is really important.

“Clearly, people’s safety is paramount but we don’t want to take away their enjoyment.

“By the time someone has shouted or screamed, it’s done.

“What does a steward do then? ‘Which one of you shouted, don’t do it again?’ It’s almost impossible to police.

“What we said to people is they have the primary responsibility for their own safety, then the people around you and then our staff.

“Don’t put us in the position where your behaviour puts at risk you, fellow fans or our staff. People said, ‘That’s fair.’ We didn’t have a single issue from 2,500 fans, they all behaved superbly.

“They did sing, did shout at the referee, we scored a last-minute equaliser against Chelsea which they liked and they celebrated that.


“We did a couple of things after the game to try and stagger people’s departure from the stadium and asked the two managers to do a live interview on the pitch.

“Frank Lampard and Graham Potter came out, both managers got a great round of applause from the fans.

The Argus:

“Frank said afterwards it was the first time ever as a rival manager he had been applauded on to the pitch at an away ground.

“But it was partly because people were so delighted to be back, fans were so pleased to be there and so pleased that Chelsea agreed to play the game.

“It was good for everyone’s morale and the return of fans before Christmas is going to have the same effect and be really good for people’s morale, even though we are operating at very small numbers.”