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Brighton and Hove Albion 0 v 0 Leeds United
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 27th November 2021 Kick-off 17:30
Brighton Awaydaze
Friday, 26th Nov 2021 21:31 by Tim Whelan

Yet again our visit to Brighton and Hove Albion is moved to an awkward kick-off time thanks to our old friends at Sky Sports. This time the fun starts at 5.30 tomorrow evening.

It's a long story how Brighton came to be playing in their new stadium at Falmer. The Goldstone Ground had been Brighton's home since 1902, but by the 1990s it had fallen into a state of some disrepair and it would have taken a lot of work to bring it up to the standards demanded by the Taylor Report. Instead, the owner of Focus DIY had the bright idea of selling the ground for his own gain and bought his place on the board for just over £50!

The Goldstone ground was sold for £7 million by the club and then re-sold again shortly afterwards for £22 million! So hard-up Brighton had to play their home games at Gillingham for two years, before returning to the only available site in the town in 1999 and spending £2m to bring a council-owned athletics stadium at Withdean up to Football League standard.

After a long drawn out battle, the Club finally received planning permission in July 2007 for a new stadium at Falmer, which is a village on the northern edge of Brighton close to the University of Sussex. The move was fiercely resisted by the residents, who thought it would spoil the character of the village, but the club finally got the nod after a public enquiry. The new stadium cost £93m, and now goes under the snappy name of ‘The American Express Community Stadium.

To get there by car you need to take the M23 and then the A23, until you reach the junction with the A27. You then take this road towards Lewes, and after around four miles you will reach the stadium on your right hand side. But there is no parking at the stadium for away fans (although coaches and minibuses will be allowed to park providing that they have been pre-booked with the Club) and there is a large no parking zone in force around the area of the stadium on matchdays.

So the club are trying to encourage fans to use the Park & Ride services. These run from three different locations, and the easiest one for away fans is Mill Road, just off the A23/A27 junction. It runs from around two and a half hours before kick-off, and on the return journey the last buses leave the stadium up to 90 minutes after the end of the game. Vehicles must be removed no later than two hours after the game has ended.

As there have been reports of long waits on the buses back to the park & ride car parks, it might be a better idea to park at Lewes Railway Station Car Park and get the train from there. The cost of the car park is £6.35 for the day and there are over 200 spaces. The train take just seven minutes to reach Falmer, where the station is right next to the stadium.

Free public transport to and from Brighton’s stadium on matchdays within the Hove area is included with your match ticket, which covers the train from Falmer or from Brighton. There is a train from the main Brighton station approximately every fifteen minutes, but there are usually long queues to get onto the station after the game.

Another option is to get a bus from the centre of Brighton, on route number 25, 28 or 29. If you’re coming down from London on the train you only need to buy a ticket to Haywards Heath, as everything beyond is covered by the local public transport zone. Sadly it won’t be possible to get a train back to Leeds after the game, and getting to other parts will be more difficult than usual because of the bad weather and the London Underground strike.

There aren’t many pubs close to the stadium, only the Swan Inn in Falmer village, and that is usually for home fans only. So you might need to stop for a pint or two in Brighton itself, with one decent option being the CAMRA- recommended Evening Star, which is on Surrey Street near the main railway station. And there is also the excitement of Fan Zone outside the North East corner of the stadium itself, by the walkway to Falmer Station, which away fans are allowed to visit.

And they usually sell booze within the stadium and the bars are open after the game. So you can wait behind while all the traffic dies down, and they also show the times of the trains on the screens so that you know when you need to leave. And there’s always the ‘Brewers Arms’ in Lewes, the one-time Brighton and South Downs CAMRA pub of the year, which is right by the castle in the centre of town.

The away fans allocation is up to 3,300 in the South-East corner and part of the East & South Stands lower tiers, out of a total capacity of 30,666. But we’ve only got 3,000 for this game, and inevitably they have long since sold out. Tickets for the home stands are only on Sale to “MyAlbion+ members, Season Ticket Holders (to purchase guest tickets), and those with previous Purchase History”.

As you would expect from a new stadium, the view and legroom are both good, and we also get padded seats! Another plus is that the concourse is wide enough to prevent overcrowding and there is also a good selection of food by football ground standards. And the price of all this luxury is £30 for adults, with different categories of concessions available at £23 and £15.

So this has the makings of quite a good day out, providing you don’t mind getting home very, very late.

Some of this stuff came from www.footballgroundguide.com .


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