Crystal Palace and Brighton played out a 0-0 draw at The Amex Stadium last night but it was away from the pitch where the real headlines were made, as roughly 150 travelling fans were refused entry to the stadium despite possessing tickets and waiting patiently to be let in.
Brighton issued this statement late last night, suggesting that they had no option but to close the turnstiles, after a number of fans made their way into the ground without tickets, raising questions over how their stewards allowed so many people to illegally enter the arena in the first place.
Having seen dozens of first-hand accounts from outside the Amex in the hour or so that followed, fans waited peacefully whilst being kettled by police, before being told at half-time that they would not be granted admission to the stadium, regardless of the fact that they had paid good money to be there.
As a consequence, they were marched back to Falmer station without seeing a ball being kicked and sent on their way, all without any genuine explanation as to why they had been ushered away from the stadium in the first place.
To their credit, the above statement from Brighton & Hove Albion makes reference to supporters contacting the Crystal Palace box office for a refund on the price of their match ticket but for a game as big as last night’s was, a £30 reimbursement seems scant consolation.
Whilst Sussex police force were openly worried about the threat of trouble on the night, the fact that Palace fans were delayed in getting on their trains from Brighton to Falmer as a direct consequence of police action should be noted in any of the fallout to what was an incredibly frustrating evening for hundreds of peaceful, law-abiding football fans.
I’m sure this is an issue which will run and run over the next few weeks as we look to get to the bottom of exactly why so many ticket-holding supporters were treated like animals on a farm but for now, the official statement from the south coast club and the first-hand accounts from fans are all we have to go on.