Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom couldn’t contain his delight after he saw them secure promotion to the Premier League on Monday afternoon.
The multi-millionaire, who’s been a fan for 40 years, has spent around £250m of his own fortune into the club since 2009 – building their Amex stadium as well as investing in personnel and training facilities – and saw it all come to fruition on Monday when a 2-1 win over Wigan sealed their return to top-flight football for the first time since 1983.
With promotion set to earn them around £200m, Bloom says the club will continue to invest, but it will be in moderation. He said: “We have to strengthen, that goes without saying, but we’re not looking to spend huge amounts. We’ll do things on a gradual basis as we have done. We have good players already, and we want to strengthen from that position.”
Able to now keep hold of their best players – and reflecting on how important it was to do so last season, despite recording a financial loss of £26m, he said: “It was really important we kept together those main players who had gone so close last season. You can’t guarantee anything, but we did as much as we could. We kept all our main players, we strengthened, helped all the players believe this was going to be our season, and so it has proved. It is 11 months since I went into the changing-room at the end of the play-off semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday and the players were on the floor. I was on the floor.
“But I looked around and just said: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we will come back from this and do it next season’. They’ve done it. It’s just an amazing performance. What will Brighton bring to the Premier League? A great city, a great fan base, an amazing stadium which will be sold out every game, and hopefully, on the pitch, we will do the city and our supporters proud.”
Bloom and manager Chris Hughton could also be set to be granted freedom of the city, having been suggested by the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Warren Morgan, in recognition of the achievement which came 20 years after the club fought off relegation into non-league, potential liquidation, and were left homeless by the sale of the Goldstone Ground to property developers. Bloom added: “What would the future have held if we were in the Conference without a ground Words can’t describe what Chris and all the players have done this season. The teamwork, the camaraderie … it really is fantastic.”
One of Brighton’s two Israeli players, striker Tomer Hemed, took to twitter after Monday’s match to express his delight, saying: “We’re going to the Premier League! One of the best feelings in the world! Thanks god for everything”