Brighton And Hove Albion: Everything You Need To Know About The Premier League’s Newest Club

Tom Roddy

On Monday evening, on the south coast of England, the blue and white of Brighton & Hove Albion was splashed all over the city in celebration.

The city’s local team had beaten Wigan at home and, following Huddersfield Town’s draw with Derby County later on in the afternoon, secured promotion to the Premier League. Brighton is top of the Championship but will play in the top tier of English football next season.

Here, Newsweek looks at everything you need to know about the Premier League’s newest club:

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Does Brighton have a nickname?

Of course they do. Every sports team has a nickname, right? Brighton is known as the Seagulls because of the club’s location on the south coast of England, notorious for the large white birds found on the pebbly beach.

How long have the Seagulls been playing, then?

In June this year, the club will celebrate its 116th birthday having been formed in 1901.

Has the club been in the Premier League before?

No. Brighton will play its first ever Premier League game when the 2017/18 season begins in August. When the Premier League was formed in 1991/92, Brighton was in the second tier of English football but, that season, the club was relegated to the third tier and was in a dire financial position.

Brighton has played among the elite, but that was almost four decades ago. In 1979, under Alan Munnery’s management, Brighton was promoted to the First Division, as it was then known. The club lasted four seasons in the top flight, including an FA Cup final 2-2 draw against Manchester United, before being relegated in 1983, never to return. Until now.

How bad were the problems?

In 1997, it took until the final game of the season, a 1-1 draw with Hereford, for the club to confirm its place as a football league club. Brighton and Hereford finished on 47 points each, with the latter relegated due to goal difference. (Hereford is still a non-league club).

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At the time, Brighton had sold its Goldstone Ground to help the club through financial difficulties and was playing home games at Gillingham, some 70 miles away.

Who’s brought them back to the big time, then?

The manager of Brighton is Chris Hughton, who has been at the club since 2014. Hughton, 58, had a long playing career that included stints at West Ham and Brentford, but he spent most of his career at White Hart Lane playing for Tottenham Hotspur.

And it was at the Lane that Hughton began his managerial career, as a caretaker in 1998. The Irishman spent 14 years as a coach at Tottenham, working as an assistant to the likes of Ray Clemence, Gerry Francis, George Graham, Glenn Hoddle and Martin Jol. When Jol was sacked in 2007, Hughton was dismissed as well.

His first job in the manager’s seat was at Newcastle United in 2009, having taken over from Alan Shearer, but he lasted just over a year despite leading the club to promotion. Hughton took Birmingham to the Championship play-offs in his next job, and then spent two years at Norwich City.

He was appointed Sami Hyypia’s successor at Brighton on New Year’s Eve 2014, and has left his mark on the south coast.

Are the players any good?

The win over Wigan on Monday represents the perfect mix of what Hughton has brought to Brighton: Energy and experience.

Glenn Murray, the first goalscorer on 37 minutes, is second in the Championship scoring charts this season. A 33-year-old traditionally bulldozing striker, Murray has bullied Premier League and Championship defenses over a 15-year career. Twenty minutes into the second half of the match against Wigan, Brighton got its second through Solly March, a 22-year-old developed through the academy who troubles defenders with his pace, trickery and illusive left foot.  

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Frenchman Anthony Knockaert may be the outstanding player in Hughton’s team but the foundation of Albion is built on a system rather than individuals. Steve Sidwell, the former Reading, Chelsea and Fulham midfielder, has taken charge in the middle of the field alongside Dale Stephens.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton & Hove Albion at The American Express Community Stadium, Brighton, April 17. Fans celebrate Brighton's promotion to the Premier League. Action Images / Henry Browne

Who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes?

The chairman at Brighton is Tony Bloom, a businessman and poker player born and raised in the city.

Bloom took over at the club in 2009 and secured funding for its new stadium, the AmEx. Growing up in the city meant Bloom and his family are long-standing fans of the Seagulls.

Since Bloom took over, Brighton has been on the verge of the Premier League, reaching the Championship play-offs twice before securing automatic promotion this season.

Before taking the helm at Brighton, Bloom represented Britain in the Poker Nations Cup. He finished fourth in the 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. His gamble at Brighton has certainly paid off.

Where do they play?

A 30-minute drive out of Brighton city center, over the winding hills of the South Downs National Park in East Sussex, the AmEx Stadium comes into view. It sits nestled in the small village of Falmer, which separates the two universities of the city.

The AmEx is the shorthand name; officially, it is known as The American Express Community Stadium. It holds around 30,000 fans and hosts concerts when the football isn’t on. The stadium opened in 2011 and is in keeping with Premier League quality.

Would we know any fans?

Funny you should ask: One of the concerts held at the AmEx, which has become an annual event, is by Albion supporter Fatboy Slim, the world-famous DJ and producer. Fatboy, aka Norman Cook, who lives in Hove, hosted the first ever concert at the AmEx in 2012.

What are the chances of Brighton surviving next season?

Fatboy may see it differently but pretty slim.

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