Seagulls Over Burwash Article – October 2021

Comings and Goings, Injuries and Odds

The summer transfer window finally slammed shut at 11 pm on 31st August, bringing to an end the torrent of rumours, speculation and gossip that inevitably accompanies the twelve week period during which football clubs can buy and sell players. There were a few marquis signings in the Premier League, most notably Jack Grealish moving from Aston Villa to Manchester City for £100 million, Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea from Inter Milan for £97 million and Christiano Ronaldo to Manchester United from Juventus for a mere £24 million. The latter might seem something of a bargain when compared to the cost of other world class players but Mr Ronaldo’s salary of £480,000 per week (yes, per week!) disqualifies him from the discount shelf.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s dealings in the player market have been modest in comparison with many other Premier League clubs. The headlines relate more to who have left rather than joined the Seagulls. A total of 28 players left the club over the summer although not all departures were permanent. Whilst some of these have been senior players leaving for pastures new, eighteen were young or fringe players loaned to other clubs, either in lower English divisions or in other countries’ leagues, to gain experience and get regular first team football that would not be achievable at Brighton in the Premier League. The Albion’s policy of loaning young players out has paid dividends over the past few years. Both defender  Ben White and goal keeper Robert Sanchez spent numerous loan periods at ‘smaller’ clubs before progressing to Brighton’s first team. Furthermore, both now represent their country, England and Spain respectively, at senior level. Indeed, Ben White proved to be an excellent investment as he was recently sold to Arsenal for £50 million.

Only five players were brought into to club during the summer transfer window and two of these, forward Abdallah Sima and midfielder Kaoru Mitoma, were immediately loaned out. So, in essence, Brighton’s current first team squad has just three new players compared to last season, namely Zambian midfielder Enock Mwepu, Spanish defender Marc Cucurella and the giant, 6’ 8’’ Dutch goalkeeper, Kjell Scherpen. However, equally as important for Brighton’s prospects this season is the fact that, despite interest from numerous other clubs, last season’s star performer, Yves Bissouma, is still in the team. Furthermore, the recovery of wing-backs Tariq Lamptey and Solly March from long term injuries and return of the rejuvenated defender Shane Duffy back from his loan to Celtic will be like having three new signings but without the transfer fees.

The injuries to Tariq Lamptey and Solly March were just two of a litany of injuries that hampered Brighton and Hove Albion during last season. Also side-lined for significant periods of time were striker Danny Welbeck, winger Jose Izquierdo and midfielder Adam Lallana. In all, 12 players from the first team squad of 25 missed days through injury. These injuries accounted for a total of 805 days off. Given that, not only are the players are the clubs assets, but they command very high wages, such an absentee rate hits clubs hard in the pocket. The estimated cost of Brighton’s injury list for last season was £3.3 million. A huge amount by anyone’s standards. However, that pales into insignificance compared to Liverpool. The then defending champions had an injury ravaged season and they lost a total of 1,477 player days. Season-ending injuries to some of their best and, hence highest paid, players such as Virgil Van Dyke (£220,000 per week), meant some of their most valuable assets were out of action whilst still collecting their salary. Liverpool’s injuries last season cost the club a staggering £22.2 million. Such financial hits could be devastating for some clubs, so, to ensure the economic viability of our beloved sport, I have a solution to this injury dilemma…..introduce Statutory Sick Pay, you know, like applies to most normal people. So, the next time Christiano Ronaldo gets a blister or Gareth Bale tweaks his hair-do, stick them on the SSP rate of £96.35 a week until they are fit enough to continue playing.  I’m sure their powers of recovery will improve remarkably.

The new season is well under way now and, despite a less than auspicious start (they conceded a goal within two minutes of the first kick-off), Brighton and Hove Albion got off to a terrific start to their campaign by winning their first three games; two in the Premier League and a League Cup third round tie. Despite a subsequent loss to Everton, it looks promising for the Albion this season. Indeed, in all previous seasons of our Premier League residency, the bookies have had Brighton as one of the favourites for relegation. This season, however, that is not the case. According to Betfair, after the first three games, Norwich are all but doomed at odds of 4/6 to drop into the Championship at the first time of asking (again). I’m sure all Albion supporters will be distraught to see Crystal Palace as joint-second favourites for relegation (11/10) along with Watford. The odds for Brighton to be relegated are 14/1, tenth in the league. Although the relegation odds mean absolutely nothing after three games and, to the superstitious, could be seen as ‘tempting fate’, it is a testament to the club and the team that the bookies are taking them seriously as a Premier League team. A lot has changed in the 25 years since they were bottom of the league, homeless and on the verge of extinction.

Seagulls Over Burwash is now up and running with two coaches travelling to each home game taking over 100 supporters to and from the Amex Stadium. There are a few new Covid-related rules (i.e. face masks when not seated and using the same seat for both journeys) and the new Government regulation that all coach passengers wear seat belts but apart from that, all is back to normal. Most of the coach seats are booked by season ticket holders but we have a few available for match by match supporters. However, if you would like to join us for a particular match, please contact Teskey well in advance as the seat gets snapped up very quickly.

For further information on joining Seagulls Over Burwash and details of forthcoming events, meetings or coach travel, please visit our website at www.seagullsoverburwash.co.uk or email me at simon.forster@seagullsoverburwash.co.uk. Alternatively, please feel free to contact Chairman, Mr Teskey O’Neil, on 01435 884344 or tesbar80@btinternet.com

Simon Forster