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Brighton considering possibility of friendlies before Premier League restart

(Image credit: Gareth Fuller)

Brighton are exploring the possibility of holding friendlies ahead of the Premier League’s resumption next month.

‘Project Restart’ stepped up a gear on Thursday when the clubs settled on a provisional restart date of June 17 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Players got the green line to begin contact training earlier this week and Albion chief executive Paul Barber confirmed friendlies are being considered as a way of building match fitness.

“We felt that the June 20 date was a more comfortable day from a playing perspective in terms of giving the players a decent amount of time to return to contact training,” Barber said. “So, yes, we were very much in favour of that date.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has been open with the media throughout the suspension of play

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has been open with the media throughout the suspension of play (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“I mean obviously you’ve got to put a stake in the ground somewhere and aim for a particular point in time and we feel that that’s a reasonable point in time to aim for.

“Our players are keen to go, our coaches are happy, our medical staff are happy so we’re very much looking forward to it.”

Asked if Brighton are looking at setting up any sort of friendlies for the squad ahead of the restart, Barber said: “Well, we’re certainly going to look to see what we can do to sort of build-up that level of match fitness and obviously we need to work within the Government and Premier League guidelines on what’s possible.

“But certainly that’s one of the considerations, for sure.”

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Whether that is friendlies against other sides or in-house warm-up matches remains to be seen as the restart edges closer.

Barber expects the fixture schedule to run in the same order as it was due to before the suspension of play, while talks are under way to liven up the stadium with all remaining Premier League matches to be staged behind closed doors and shown on TV.

“There is a Premier League working party that’s looking at that, which I’m not on so I really can’t talk about what they’re doing,” he said.

“But they’re working with our broadcast partners and working with the clubs to try and come up with something that really makes sure that each game very identifiably is a Premier League fixture and then obviously trying to add some colour to the occasion for the fans at home and I think it is going to be obviously a bit different.

The Bundesliga has returned to action

The Bundesliga has returned to action (Federico Gambarini/AP)

“It’s going to be not what we’re all used to, but I think we have got an opportunity to showcase the games and perhaps a little bit of a different way to the Bundesliga and we’re very trusting in the colleagues that we’ve got on that working quality to come up with some great and creative ideas.”

A rebate is set to go to broadcasters even if play does resume, hitting the pocket of Brighton at what Barber says is “a very, very, very tough time financially”.

This year’s initial projected losses have increased by up to 60 per cent and the club’s deputy chairman knows things will be even tougher down the leagues.

“I do think it will change, but I can’t tell you exactly how, or what benefit that will bring throughout the pyramid,” he said. “I don’t know at the moment.”