From Championship to the Premier League, part 1
Sally Freedman takes a look at the three teams making the move upwards from Championship to Premier League in 201710 May 2017 | Sally Freedman
Newcastle and Brighton Hove Albion have taken out the automatic promotion spots from the Championship to the Premier League, with the play-off spot to be decided at the end of the month.
But just how prepared are the new sides for the Premier League? Are they ‘Premier League ready’ and what exactly does ‘Premier League ready’ mean anyway? In a three-part piece, I dissect each club and evaluate their Premier League readiness.
First up … it’s the newbies - Brighton and Hove Albion
- Brighton secured promotion to the Premier League for the first time
- The Amex stadium will boast new floodlights, a TV studio and other facilities
- Premier League promotion is worth £200m to Albion
Take one look at Brighton's splendid Amex Stadium and you soon acknowledge that they won’t look out of place in the Premier League. The facilities at the 30,750-capacity stadium are outstanding and with its sweeping curves, the Amex is striking to look at too as it sits exquisitely in the neighbouring area of outstanding natural beauty, the South Downs.
Brighton's Amex Stadium will have £5million worth of work done to it this summer to make it Premier League standard. As well as player recruitment, Brighton are setting money aside to improve their already impressive 30,750-seater stadium.
The potential fanbase for the club is vast. Brighton has a population of just under 300,000. The nearest large club is Crystal Palace, 50 miles away.
Arguably, Brighton missed out on a generation of potential support when they played home games at Gillingham (70 miles away) and the Withdean for 11 years, where crowds averaged around a measly 7,000.
But with the opening of the Amex, the fans are flocking back. Average crowds started at just over 20,000 but with extension works and a successful side, capacity attendances are now a regular occurrence. With the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool on the fixture list, the Amex can expect many more sell-outs next season.
Brighton's investment in the matchday experience is also worth a look. Outside the Amex, you’ll see plentiful entertainment including local live bands, kid’s games and more. Post-match, the concourse bars are kept open giving fans the opportunity to enjoy another drink while the queue for the trains dies down.
Brighton were in a big mess when Chris Hughton took over on New Year's Eve 2014. Previously, under the leadership of Sami Hyypia, the club had slumped from play-off candidates to relegation contenders after a run of just one win in 18 games.
Hughton did enough to keep Brighton in the division, despite failing to win any of their last seven matches.
The following season, with considerable investment and an almost-total overhaul of the squad, the team was transformed. They didn't lose in the league until December 19 – an impressive unbeaten run of 21 matches. Quite a remarkable turnaround in such a short period of time.
Hughton has Premier League experience with both Newcastle United and Norwich, and as a player at Tottenham Hotspur.
We often hear that the Championship is one of the hardest divisions in the world to crack – given that Chris Hughton has done it twice with Newcastle and Brighton, he deserves some credit. These experiences should help him find success in the Premier League.
Achieving promotion from the Championship isn’t easy. The season is a 46-match marathon and tremendous staying power and consistency are required, alongside copious depth in the squad.
Brighton certainly have showed consistency and under Hughton they have been forward-thinking and exciting to watch. Their tally of 74 league goals this season is the joint-third highest with only Newcastle United and Norwich City scoring more.
The return of Glenn Murray from Bournemouth, firstly on loan and then permanently from January, has proved an inspired move after his 23 league goals.
Antony Knockaert took out championship player of the season with an incredible eight assists and 15 goals. He’s been up there before with Leicester and I’m certain there will be scouts watching his every move in the Premier League as he plays with such pace, excitement and skill.
Combined with this attacking firepower, Brighton have an impressive defence duo with Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy often stealing the headlines.
With one or two shrewd acquisitions, Brighton should have a squad capable of staying up in their first season.
The fight both for survival and a place Brighton could call home created a bond between club and community like no other.
The club often talks about a ‘bottom up’ approach - they want to do things properly and if they can’t, they don’t do it.
For example, their community programme touches 50,000 young people annually and they are leading the way in providing access to disabled fans. Furthermore, every staff member from car park attendant to receptionist to match day steward was rewarded with a bonus of between 10 and 20 per cent when Brighton secured promotion.
Away fans are given an experience to remember too with their local beers and foods often shipped in for matchday.
Will they stay up?
When Tony Bloom, the astute Brighton Chairman took the reins, he made one goal very clear to all. He wanted Brighton and Hove Albion to be in the Premier League within five years. He achieved his dream in six years. Not a bad effort.
Brighton almost made it to the Premier League by automatic promotion in year 5 but narrowly missed out to Middlesbrough on goal difference on the final day of the season.
In Brighton’s favour, they have been planning for this to happen for a reasonable amount of time.
With Brighton’s prime south coast location, just an hour away from London, it is often described as one of the most desirable places to live in the United Kingdom. It’s a factor that certainly won’t hinder player recruitment.
Combine all of this with a world class stadium and training facility, an astute, business savvy chairman, a premier league experienced manager, an innovative CEO in Paul Barber, and secure finances they certainly have a lot of the right boxes ticked to stay in the English Premier League.
epl, premier league, brighton and hove albion fc