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Brighton & Hove Albion chief executive says supporters could return to stadiums this season

Paul Barber admitted his club were planning for the worst but hoped to see the Amex Stadium full again.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber is hopeful supporters could return to stadiums before the end of the season.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out a road map for how the UK will come out of its current national lockdown on Monday.

Fans were last allowed into sports grounds in December, and when spectators will next be welcomed into venues should become clearer next week.

Supporters were last allowed into sports grounds in December (Mike Hewitt/PA)

Speaking at Wednesday's Financial Times' Business of Football event, Barber said: "We are hopeful that we might see a small number of fans back by the end of the season.

"But realistically we are preparing for the worst and them not coming back.

"There are a number of issues. There is going to be the issue of confidence, even when people have received the vaccine, not everybody will take the option of having it, and in terms of fans coming back in large numbers and getting to and from the stadium.

"There is the financial issue, too. A lot of people have lost their jobs so that is going to have some impact on season ticket and matchday sales.

"And then were are set to face some form of government restrictions, whether that is in terms of limited capacity or social distancing.

"But there is a huge demand for people to get out of their homes and see live events, and in particular live sport. The opportunity for them to come back and watch a game in a stadium is significant.

"For us, it can't come soon enough but it has to be done when it is safe to do so."

It emerged this week that the Football Association and EFL are in talks with the Government about fans returning for the Carabao Cup final and FA Cup final at Wembley.

Tottenham face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup on April 25 with the FA Cup final due to take place on May 15.

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Brighton & Hove Albion's Alexis Mac Allister in action with Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez in the Premier League on February 13, 2021
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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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Pre-Season Friendlies
Olympic Games Men's Football
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Portuguese Super Cup
Taca da Liga
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
League of Ireland Premier
Belarusian Premier League
2.Bundesliga
Ligue 2
Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Chinese Super League
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