Albion held their annual fans’ forum at the Amex this evening and a range of topics were discussed.
Supporters asked the panel of Albion chairman Tony Bloom, chief executive Paul Barber and manager Chris Hughton a number of questions throughout the hour-long question-and-answer event.
Here are some of the key topics that were discussed:
The small margins which meant Albion missed out on promotion last season.
Hughton: “It wasn’t a lot, given we missed out by two goals. During the (unbeaten) run we had, if we’d turned one of the draws to wins it would have been enough.
“Some things went for and against us and we never want to make excuses. But in the last few games things didn’t go for us. To this day I still don’t think Dale Stephens should have been sent off at Middlesbrough and never will.
“The injuries at Sheffied Wednesday was our biggest blow in those final few games.”
The best season I’ve seen in 40 years watching the club.
Bloom: “Our players were magnificent. They deserved promotion. It was truly amazing and it was the best season I have seen.
“Over 48 games I think there was only one game the players were not up to their usual very high standard.
“I’ve been watching for 40 years and it was best season I’ve seen at this club by far. A huge amount of agony at the end and a lot of bad luck right at the end.”
Norwich hijacking the Pritchard deal while he was delayed on the M25.
Barber: “We don’t usually share transfer info, but we will make an exception with this one. We took four or five days to negotiate with Tottenham. We got the deal done, it took a lot of talking and hard work and a lot of backwards and forwards.
“We took the step of getting the deal done with the player and his agent. All three elements were in place and the player was travelling to us. But there were delays on the M25, and it was during that delay another club jumped on the deal.
“These things happen in football, and we are not naive enough to think that doesn’t happen.
“We move on. Chris Hughton, Tony Bloom, Paul Winstanley and I weren’t happy, but the most important thing now is getting players who want to play for us.”
The price of tickets.
Barber said: “I have a lot of sympathy for fans, it’s a big cost. But we also have to get the balance right to support Chris and give him a competitive squad.
“We know we’re not the cheapest, but I think we offer great value for money when you consider there is a great view, great seats and the travel and experience here.”
How confident are the club of keeping key players like Knockaert, Stephens, Dunk and Kayal?
Bloom said: “We were so successful last season and some players performed exceptionally well, so it’s no surprise that clubs are interested in our best players.
“Our line is always the same, we really want to keep the squad that performed so magnificently last season together but we can’t guarantee it, as no club can. But we are looking to keep our best players and strengthen the squad.”
Will Jack Harper be involved in the first team this season?
Hughton: “The aim, not just for him, but several young players is to be in the first team.
“Jack’s had a good pre-season and there is a very good challenge for him, as there is a lot of the under-21s. Can they force their way into a good squad?”
The lack of Saturday 3pm kick-offs last season.
Barber:”Sky is one of our biggest income streams, and as an EFL club we are part of a contract which means games change and last season was a lot due to our success on the pitch.
“The income we get is significant, but it isn’t just for us, it trickles down to League One and Two.
Kayal, Stephens contracts up next summer, do you worry they’ll walk away for free?
Bloom: “Dale Stephens is a key player and it goes without saying we don’t want his contract to run out.
“We’d very much like him to sign a new long-term deal. To get that signature needs two sides to agree and it’s his prerogative if he wants to sign or not.
“Beram is in a similar situation, with one year to run. Something like that is not unusual, it’s part and parcel of running a club.”
What came of the club’s play-off revision proposal?
Barber: “It will be reviewed for the Championship over the next year and a decision made next summer. League One and League Two clubs don’t want it reviewed.
“These things take time and we are now in the consultation period ahead of next summer.”
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