Extra police officers will be put on for Brighton’s clash with Crystal Palace at The Amex Stadium this evening in a bid to avoid any headlines surrounding the fixture.
Last season, a number of travelling Eagles supporters were kettled around Brighton town centre, herded onto trains towards Falmer, held outside the stadium and forced back onto trains without being let into the ground on an evening which Sussex Police are no doubt keen to forget all about.
As part of the official report into the night’s events, superintendent Simon Nelson wrote that the scenes represented a “return to the dark days of football” before alleging that knives and knuckle-dusters had been recovered from the away end over the course of the evening. Following an immense amount of hard work from Palace supporters, those comments were found to be false, prompting an official admittance of guilt from Sussex Police over the matter.
Taking all of that into account, alongside an increased travelling allocation of 2,400 for tonight’s match, you can understand why many are wary of the same force tarring our fans’ names unfairly once more. Had there not been a tireless and extremely thorough effort made to clear our supporters of any wrongdoing by fanzine Five Year Plan in the aftermath of our last meeting, those lies would have stuck like glue for decades to come, with Sussex Police no doubt happy to have their word taken as gospel by the public before being found to have misled them on the basis of gossip alone.
With tensions already raised, I will admit to being stunned at the decision to play this fixture in midweek for the second season running, given the potential for alcohol consumption and travel chaos to sky-rocket. Common sense would surely have meant playing the game early on a Saturday or Sunday but instead, this is where we find ourselves once more.
Will they ever learn?