How Albion shared praise for ninth place - but now it's a case of 'follow that'

·3-min read
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom was hugely proud as his side came ninth
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom was hugely proud as his side came ninth

All members of Albion’s staff received carefully chosen words of thanks and congratulations when the club’s season ended in style.

The appreciative message from chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber came very soon after the 3-1 win over West Ham which secured ninth place.

Staff were encouraged to appreciate what had happened and to enjoy their summer break.

But the message will move on quickly – from “well done” to “follow that”.

It has to in an ultra-competitive environment like the Premier League.

The Seagulls’ hierarchy revealed an aim three years ago to establish themselves as a top-ten club.

But, as was made clear then, that did not mean coming tenth once. Or even ninth.

It meant being part of that top ten in all, or most, years on a more consistent basis.

They are some way from doing that.

One soaring Seagull does not make a summer.

But they have made an important breakthrough.

So the focus goes back on to the future as Barber himself starts his second decade at the club with a new contract.

Technical director Dan Ashworth is off to pastures new, most likely Newcastle and, the hope is on Tyneside, in time for the transfer window.

But an otherwise solid, consistent feel about Albion’s structure will only be reinforced by news of Barber’s new deal, which is being described as long-term.

He told The Argus: “I strongly believe the best football clubs are built on a good owner, a clear vision, a consistent strategy, high quality people on, off and around the field, and stability.

“I’m very fortunate here that we have all of that.

“As a consequence, there will always be interest in our staff and players.

“We have excellent people in all areas, and every approach we receive for them is a compliment to how the club has progressed, on and off the field.”

In his post-season message to staff, Barber described this as “a truly exciting period in our club’s history”.

But the message was to now work even harder on and off the pitch to maintain a top-ten placing.

Another goal at some stage in the coming years will be to win a trophy.

There is also the ongoing effort to establish the women’s team within the top four of the FA WSL.

That is another part of Bloom’s vision for the club.

Hope Powell’s squad are making progress but have not yet experienced the sort of Eureka moment enjoyed by Graham Potter’s men of late.

As the dust settled on that West Ham game and the joyous post-match scenes, Barber told staff: “I know there is nobody prouder than Tony tonight.”

Barber’s new deal will make him the third longest-serving executive in a such a role within the Premier League.

Susan Whelan has been in a similar role at Leicester City since 2010, when King Power took over the club from Milan Mandaric.

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Daniel Levy at Tottenham is way out in front in terms of longevity having been at the helm since 2001.

But his role is slightly different as executive chairman rather than CEO.

Barber joined Albion in 2012 ahead of a summer also notable for player signings such as those of Bruno, Wayne Bridge and Tomasz Kuszczak as Albion built a side which chased promotion from the Championship.

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