Fittingly, for these unprecedented times, we don’t really know Chelsea’s preseason schedule, but it looks like we’ll be playing our first preseason friendly this Saturday, August 29, away to Brighton & Hove Albion, against whom we’ll also begin the new Premier League season on September 14.
Saturday’s friendly will be at the Amex Stadium in Brighton, but the truly noteworthy part of the occasion will be that it’s set to be one of the test events for the UK government’s scheme to start allowing fans back in stadiums. Up to 2500 supporters (no away fans) will be allowed in, which is less than 10 per cent of the stadium’s total 30,000+ capacity. (This test event was originally scheduled for August 30, but now will be on the 29th, thus the “TBC” in the tweet below.)
Brighton’s website details all the hoops fans will have to jump through to be there in person, and all the measures that they’re going to (trying to) be taking to maintain social distancing and hygiene throughout the day.
All tickets will be electronic (or print-at-home) and fans will have to show matching ID. (This is important of Track & Trace as well, with supporters required to have the NHS’s app on their phones.) Fans must sit in their assigned seats, which will be spaced out, and cannot move seats even if they’re family (which would be impossible to police). Stewards will conduct (random?) temperature checks (why not just check everyone?). Masks will have to be worn at all times when not seated. There is no official ban on chanting or singing, but there spitting, hugging, and shaking hands is not allowed, and anyone engaging “any conduct that can be reasonably construed to be intending to transmit the COVID-19 virus to another person” will receive a lifetime ban (as per the amended Supporters Code of the Conduct).
This is our new reality, and we’re going to have to get used to it.
Here’s to football!