Seagulls Over Burwash Article – September 2019

New Faces, High Prices and Hopes of Big Scalps

The 2019 summer transfer window slammed shut on Thursday 8th August signalling the end of the buying, selling and loaning of players in the English football league system. Brighton and Hove Albion have been busy in the market with a total of six players coming to the club. The highlight buys have been Leandro Trossard, a 24 year old Belgian winger, Adam Webster, a defender bought from Bristol City, also 24 years old, and Neal Maupay, a 22 year old French striker who made the headlines  by being the joint top scorer in the Championship last season while playing for Brentford. The total cost of these three players alone was an eye-watering £55 million. None of the three has played in the Premier League previously and, therefore, it remains to be seen whether they can make an impact in what is, arguably, the world’s toughest league competition. Hopefully, the gamble taken on these player by club chairman and renowned poker player, Tony Bloom, will represent a royal flush and pay great dividends over the next few seasons.

The £55 million paid by the Albion for new players this season seems a huge, almost unfathomable, amount of money to normal working folks like you and I.  However, modern football in general and the Premier League in particular, is anything but normal. The prices paid by Brighton for new players pales into insignificance compared to other clubs. For example, Manchester United paid £80 million and £45 million for defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, respectively. Premier League new-boys Aston Villa have spent well in excess of £100 million on 12 new players, virtually an entire new squad, in an attempt to guarantee success at the top level. A similar high stakes gamble was taken by Fulham last season, who spent £100 million ‘improving’ their squad for the Premier League. In their case, the gamble did not come off and they were relegated back to the Championship at the first opportunity. Splashing the cash does not guarantee success.

In many cases, clubs fund their purchases of new players by selling players. Indeed, 17 players have left Brighton and Hove Albion since the end of last season. “How much has the club earned from this” I hear you cry. Absolutely nothing! Most of the departing players were young prospects or academy trainees. Six of these were not considered good enough to continue with the club and have been released to pursue their careers elsewhere. Nine players have been loaned to other clubs from lower leagues in a bid to get regular first team experience. Last year’s first team captain, Bruno, retired and the remaining departee left to join another club on a free transfer. Not one player has been sold by Brighton. Just as well they have all that Premier League TV money.

Now that the season is underway and the fixtures are set for the next nine months, all football supporters will have planned their season and filled in their diaries. For most fans there are certain games that are sacrosanct. No matter what else may occur, birthday parties, weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs or whatever, the game must be attended. Usually, such games involve local rivals, or in the case of Brighton, not so local rivals. The home game against the Albion’s traditional rivals, Crystal Palace, takes place on 29th February, a date already circled in red on my wall planner. Woe betide any foolish soul that tries to book anything for that day that involves me or any of the other 30,000 supporters that will have tickets for the game! 

Other not-to-be-missed matches are those against the ‘top six’; Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea. For many years now, these teams have been in a mini-league of their own at the top of the table and with only the occasional interloper encroaching on their summit territory (most notably Leicester City in 2016). Consequently, these games are looked upon as ‘free hits’ and any points gained can be considered a bonus. Brighton and Hove Albion does not have a great record against the top six since returning to the Premier League two seasons ago. So far they have beaten Manchester United twice, Arsenal once and drawn with both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspurs. The other twenty games against these teams have all ended in defeat. That equates to a paltry 11 points from a possible 72. Nevertheless, the supporters pack the Amex whenever a top six team visits in the hope (rather than expectation) that the Albion will defy the odds and win. Maybe this year there will be a few more surprises……..?

Seagulls Over Burwash are running two coaches to every home game this season. We usually have a few seats available for match-by-match supporters. If you would like to go to a game and would like to travel on one of our coaches, please contact us well in advance as spare seats get 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, contact our Chairman, Mr Teskey O’Neil, on 01435 884344 or tesbar80@btinternet.com. As all who know him would verify, Teskey, is a dedicated and, some would say, obsessive Albion fan. He is also a keen horticulturalist and his garden reflects both of his passions. His carefully manicured borders are festooned with the blossom of a multitude of plant species and cultivars but they all have one thing in common – they are all blue and white. Early this year, Teskey was traumatised when, by some genetic quirk, his carefully selected white delphiniums blossomed red. Imagine his horror as he looked out of his window to see not the Albion blue and white but the blue and red of Crystal Palace! Suffice to say that his green bin was full that week.

Simon Forster