Monday the 17th April was the day that Brighton and Hove Albion gained promotion to the English Premier League. The news came when the Seagulls beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 at home, with Huddersfield meanwhile suffering a clinching draw against Derby.
The victory came about in a pretty comfortable fashion, with Murray scoring a goal in the 37th minute, and Solly March securing the win in the 65th minute. Wigan did respond with a late comeback goal, but it was by no means enough to prevent Brighton from clinching the win, and with it improving their chances of taking home the Championship.
The combination of results ensured that Brighton will take up their place with the top dogs next season, avoiding the uncertainties of playoffs. Fans will be delighted as their club finally step foot back into a league that they have not played in since way back in 1983.
In fact, Brighton are a club that have just recovered from a long and hard couple of decades. In the 1996-7 season they barely avoided relegation from the Football League, and lost their home stadium due to debt.
The team were forced to commute 70 miles to play home games in Gillingham after Goldstone Stadium was sold.
It seemed like Brighton had fallen from grace, until they were picked up by chairman Tony Bloom in 2009.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with Tony Bloom, he is known to many as a multi-million prize winning player who is feared at any poker table. His live poker tournament earnings exceed $1.5 million, and his presence earned him the nickname “Lizard”.
But Bloom is not only a professional poker player. He is also a businessman and property investor with strong affiliations with Brighton and Hove Albion. His grandfather was vice chairman of the club in the 1970s, his uncle is is director, and Bloom himself is still a big fan to this day. This passion and support for the side is at least one of his reasons for him taking such a financial interest.
Bloom invested around £250 million in the club, using the money to see to it that the new and rather impressive Apex Stadium was built, along with training grounds, player investments, as well as paying off losses. With a place to train and to play, it seemed the newly inspired Brighton team would soon pick up the pace, and aided by transfers that they could now afford, they soon started to win games again.
In an emotional outburst at the end of the victory against Wigan Athletic on Monday, he appeared to shout, “We’re on the way to the Premier League”, and was matched by avid fans cries of “We’re going up!”.
Indeed, Bloom’s investment seems to be paying off, and the club may not be in the red for too much longer. Last season they also managed extremely promising results, narrowly missing out on a promotion only by goal difference.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton believes that last year’s performance, while disappointing in one respect, was a major factor in the team’s results this season. He thinks the players wanted to replicate the positive experience of being up there and playing for promotion.
Paul Barber hints that the club will focus on drawing up potential new recruits for coming seasons, and will be aiming to strike the balance between introducing fresh talent, and keeping the spirit of the current team alive in order to keep up the form and stay at the top.