It’s the first test of how well the coronavirus protocols will stand up to having a large gathering of supporters in a Premier League football stadium.
On Saturday, Frank Lampard will take his Chelsea side to Brighton and Hove Albion’s AMEX Stadium, and for the first time in six months, both sides will come out onto the pitch in front of fans. Two thousand, five hundred of them to be precise.
The Sun report that the friendly fixture is the first in the government’s pilot scheme to see how quickly football as a business can get back to normality with capacity crowds inside stadia.
The financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic has hit football clubs particularly hard, thanks to an enormous loss of match day revenue.
“It’s a big opportunity for us to help demonstrate to the government, general public and fans in particular that we can stage an event safely,” former FA supremo and now Brighton chief executive, Paul Barber said, cited by The Sun.
“It’s an important first step to restoring confidence and to giving people something to look forward to on their weekends.
“It is a small event and it is a pilot so the whole point of it is to test various plans, assumptions and operational procedures.
“Then we can see if they work, how they work and if they don’t work, why they didn’t work and to enable us to make better plans for future events which might be larger.”
There will be a range of measures in place for the match, according to The Sun.
Random temperature checks, socially-distanced seating and the enforcement of face coverings in concourse areas will be as standard.
As long as everyone in attendance is sensible, then the pathway back to full grounds may not end up being a long one.