The Championship play-offs start this week with two utterly enthralling fixtures which are sure to be absolutely cracking.
Third place Watford face Leicester, after an incredible final day of the season saw Watford miss out on second whilst Leicester snatched sixth from an unlikely position.
However the game that has everyone talking is the match up between bitter rivals Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace, unfortunately the hype isn’t about the football but much rather the restrictions that the fans have been put under for the match up.
These restrictions have definitely hit the Brighton fans harder; earlier in the season when the Seagulls visited Selhurt Park in the Championship the only restriction placed upon the Brighton fans was the one that meant they were kept behind after the game and as a Brighton fan myself I can say that although that was annoying it was tolerable. This time round however the restrictions have been increased to a stage that boarders on the ridiculous. As well as being kept behind after the game any travelling Seagulls supporters will have to bring photographic ID to prove their identity, each fan will have to buy their own personal ticket and any fan who is found to have given their ticket to someone else could face up to a one-year ban.
These restrictions have been made for the safety of both sets of supporters but if you ask me it is far too over-the-top to be any good. The fans who travel to Selhurt Park on Friday night will be treated like cattle, being herded into the away end and out once the match is completed.
This more than anything just adds to the idea that more and more in England, football fans are being treated as customers rather than the fans they are. It also shows a distinct lack of trust from the authorities towards football fans. Just because of the rivalry our two sides have does not mean that every single Palace and Albion fan is going to the match to cause trouble.
In fact in the four times the two side have met since Brighton’s return to the Championship I have not seen anything outside the ground that resembles anywhere near the kind of trouble that the police are clearly expecting there to be.
There is no doubt that this is sure to be a fiery contest but it is a shame that so much of the attention has been diverted away from the footballing spectacle we are sure to see. It is also going to be interesting to see how many Brighton fans travel to South London under these restrictions, especially when the contest is being broadcast live on Sky,
Once the fan issue has been overlooked there is no doubt in my mind that we will witness an incredible pair of play-off games as the race for the Premier League is set to be the best it has been in a long time.