Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber said that courts should be given the power to hand out more severe punishments to abusive supporters as a lifetime ticketing ban “isn’t a strong enough deterrent”.

Barber made the statement after three ticket-holders were arrested during the Premier League club’s 1-1 draw against Chelsea at the 30,666-capacity Amex Stadium due to allegations of homophobic and racist abuse.

Barber said in a statement that the safety and stewarding team, along with Sussex Police, had to deal with three separate and “unwanted instances of disgusting racist and homophobic abuse”.

He continued: “If the prospect of a life ban from watching their clubs play football isn’t a strong enough deterrent, we have to ask the question as to whether the courts should be given the power to hand out more severe punishments?

“Football can only do so much, and we are sick and tired of the game’s reputation being tarnished by these people.

“I find it impossible to comprehend how and why some individuals think it’s acceptable to behave in this way, and yet again I will make it very clear that neither Brighton & Hove Albion nor the wider football community, will tolerate racism, homophobia, or any other form of discrimination at any time.”

In a statement to CNN, Chelsea said that the club “also operates a zero tolerance policy towards racism, homophobia and any other form of discriminatory behaviour, and will always take the strongest possible action against season ticket holders or members who take part in such despicable behaviour.”

According to UK court sentencing guidelines, a person found guilty of “engaging in or taking part in indecent/racialist chanting at a designated football match” can be fined up to £1,000 in addition to being handed a banning order.

Image: Brighton and Hove Albion