Our Seagulls aren’t involved in football at the moment. We can sit back and watch the play-offs for the clubs that couldn’t get automatic promotion (unlike us) and watch the climax of the Premiership season. All this is relevant of course. Who could we be playing on August 6th?
West Ham is now a definite. They ARE down into the Championship. Worryingly, our manager Gus Poyet had been linked to the Hammers following their relegation and the immediate sacking of Avram Grant. I think this is media speculation only as Gus is unlikely to consider going to a club run by David Sullivan and David Gold as they previously sacked his former Chelsea team-mate Gianfranco Zola.
It’s a hard life managing a football club. Former Albion boss Mickey Adams has been sacked at Sheffield United as they were relegated out of the Championship.
The other two Premiership clubs for us to play had yet to be decided until yesterday when it was confirmed as Blackpool and Birmingham, not Wigan, Wolves or Blackburn.
Who ever had come down it will be an exciting division for us. We know we will be seeing our southern rivals Portsmouth, Southampton and Crystal Palace. Also in our division will be Leeds, Millwall, Leicester, Hull, Middlesbrough, Ipswich, Watford, Coventry, Derby and Charlton. I look forward to visiting these and seeing them at our new Amex stadium.
Speaking of which the fantastic new home of our Seagulls is coming along nicely, thank-you. It is looking fabulous. The grass is green and the seats are blue – except for several magnificent white seagulls soaring across the stands. CEO Martin Perry says he preferred these white birds rather than lettering. They certainly look more impressive than “BAHAFC” on the seats.
Last week I was WRONG to talk about a full Amex for the prestigious friendly against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday 30th July. Perry tells me it is the SECOND ramp-up event (the first being the Sussex Senior Cup Final on the 16th) for the new stadium and the crowd is limited to 17,000. The tickets for the Spurs game should sell very quickly.
You might think manager Poyet would be relaxing now. I’m afraid not as he now has had to put a central defender on his summer shopping list. Adam El-Abd was on crutches after his leg problem and Tommy Elphick picked up a nasty ankle injury in the last game that might not be good in time for pre-season training. That leaves captain Gordon Greer and young Lewis Dunk only so Gus will be looking for cover. Actually I think he will be looking for midfielders and strikers too, wanting to strengthen the whole squad for the higher division.
One player on the wish list is or was Kazenga LuaLua. He went back to Newcastle after breaking a leg with Brighton. I think we all hoped he could be coaxed back south if he wasn’t figuring in the Premiership club’s plans. But he was playing for them against Arsenal at the weekend so our hopes may be receding.
What we do have in abundance are rumours. Inigo Calderon might be tempted away to Southampton – or not! Michael Owen was seen at The Grand Hotel with Poyet and Tony Bloom – or not? Unfortunately the one that was running on is Glenn Murray off to Palace. The free agent has left the club but going to rivals Palace would be salt in the wound.
Gus has said he thinks the move to the Amex can help the side. “Moving into the new stadium with Championship football at the same time is perfection. It’s going to change history… because the stadium is unique and magnificent. It’s going to be one of the best in the division and our players will be inspired by it.”
He had a hand in making the pitch as big as possible. “If you are a team that needs to keep the ball, to use the ball in the right way, then you need the biggest one. I’m pleased I could make a decision about that. It is going to be quite big.” Brighton fans know that Gus will be sending out his side to play the beautiful game his way.