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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September 2004, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
March 'shows support for stadium'
Fans march along Brighton seafront
Up to 4,000 fans took part in the march along the seafront
A march through Brighton by football fans calling for a new stadium in the city proved the support for the scheme, the club's chief executive has said.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is due to decide whether Brighton and Hove Albion can build a stadium at Falmer.

An estimated 4,000 fans marched along the seafront on Monday to the venue of the Labour Party conference.

Chief executive Martin Perry said it should prove to Mr Prescott the levels of support for the scheme.

Delighted at turnout

Brighton's former home, the Goldstone Ground, closed in 1997 after former chairman Bill Archer sold the site.

It is now a retail park, while the Seagulls play their home matches at Withdean, a 7,000-capacity athletics stadium in the city.

There's massive community support in this city for this project and it's very important to the community
Martin Perry, Brighton and Hove Albion

The club wants to build a 22,000-seater stadium at Falmer.

The scheme has been opposed by some locals and a public inquiry, which has already lasted more than a year-and-a-half, is due to re-open in February.

On Monday, fans marched peacefully from Madeira Drive to the Brighton Centre and back.

Supporters of other teams were among those who took part, welcomed by organisers keen to stress that the issue was of relevance to the football-supporting community nationwide.

Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Martin Perry said he was delighted by the size of the turnout.

'Campaigning with humour'

Mr Perry said: "We're sending two messages to John Prescott and the Labour Party.

"There's massive community support in this city for this project and it's very important to the community.

Fans on the march
The fans were praised for their humour and peaceful campaigning

"But we've also proved it again and again, there's only one site in the city - it's Falmer and we need it now."

Ivor Caplin, Labour MP for Hove, said: "Our message has got home, everyone in John Prescott's office and at 10 Downing Street knows of our desire to get a new stadium and to do it campaigning with humour and innovation and peacefully.

"That's what our supporters have proved today."

Among those who attended the march were Brighton resident Zoe Ball, current club manager Mark McGhee and one of his predecessors Micky Adams, now manager of Leicester City.

Singer Billy Bragg - a Labour activist and a fan of West Ham United - was due at a meeting about reforming the House of Lords but joined the march.

He said: "I'm in town for the conference and the Football Trust movement is something I've always supported - it's very important.

"I think it's important that when you come to the conference you don't just breeze through the town, you look at the local issues."

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