Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace has been postponed due to rail strikes on 17 September.
The M23 derby clash was set to take place at 3pm BST on Saturday 17 September at the Seagulls’ AMEX Stadium, yet industrial action planned across the rail network has led both clubs agreeing to postpone the fixture in interest of enabling fans to attend the fixture.
Brighton’s Chief Executive, Paul Barber issued a statement explaining that both Brighton and Palace had been in “continued dialogue” concerning the impact of the rail strike on this fixture and had held discussions with “all relevant authorities,” including Sussex and Surrey Police.
Local emergency services, agencies, Premier League officials and Brighton & Hove City Council were also involved in discussions and following a thorough evaluation, it was “uunanimously” recommended by the Safety Advisory Group to postpone the match with Premier League’s official support.
Barber proceeded to explain why the decision was taken as he commented: “While we fully appreciate this will be of huge disappointment to both sets of fans, and causes disruption to both teams’ fixture schedules as well as those of supporters, the safety of fans of both clubs, our matchday staff, players and officials must be the priority.
“We have taken into consideration how difficult it would be for fans of both clubs to attend the match without access to the rail network and we looked at a number of options and various contingency plans.”
On whether the fixture could of been rearranged to avoid the rail strikes, Barber iterated that both clubs had explored alternative travel, bringing forward or pushing the match back within the same week but no obvious solution was possible to maximise crowd attendances.
Barber also offered apologies to fans of both clubs who had been excited for the fixture as he added: “We apologise for the inconvenience this may have caused fans of both teams, but we feel that the right decision has been reached.
“We would also like to thank Crystal Palace, the Premier League and the authorities for their support in this matter.”
At present, no new date for the fixture has been agreed but both Brighton and Palace have urged their supporters to retain their tickets, with those who purchased a ticket able to apply for a refund within seven days of the rearranged fixture date becoming publicly known.
This isn’t the first football match to have been directly affected by actions involving the UK’s railway network this year, after last season’s FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Liverpool faced logistical issues which led to thorough discussions before announcement of fixture details.