There are not many teams like Brighton

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Except for a few modest seasons the football team played between the 70s and 80s, the English city of Brighton has always been known for something else. Beaches, for example, are thus a popular holiday destination for the rest of the United Kingdom. Or for its lively and influential music scene in the mid-1960s, with the famous clash of subcultures it inspired among other things. Quadroviniaa famous recording that later became a movie for Who, and other songs like Brighton Rock by Queen.

However, after more than a century of playing in the smaller leagues of English football, seven years ago the city’s football team, Brighton & Hove Albion, made their Premier League debut and have not been relegated since. Brighton’s arrival coincided with a period Maximum prosperity English Championship. “Seagulls” – as they are called – managed to take advantage of them to change their entire history.

After constantly improving their position in the championship, their ninth place finish last season was their highest score ever. For a team already known for the effectiveness of the recruitment system and the analytical and innovative management methods of its properties, the ninth place has attracted more interest from the big clubs.

Brighton fans outside Falmer Stadium (Getty Images)

Chelsea were willing to pay more than 20 million euros just to take over coach Graham Potter, who has become the highest-paid of all time: more than Jose Mourinho and Julian Nagelsmann of Bayern Munich. The sale of players in the summer brought in revenue of more than €100m, mostly made up of the staggering amount Chelsea paid Spanish winger Marc Cucurella, which cost Brighton less than €20m and was resold for three times that amount thereafter. season in England. And despite sales, the team is fourth after six league games.

However, only twenty years ago, Brighton was in danger of extinction, between debt and constant decline. In this case, management at the time in 1996 came up with the idea of ​​transferring ownership of the city’s historic stadium, Goldstone Ground, to a real estate group to avoid potential bankruptcy. The choice was disastrous: resentment erupted among the fans that initially led to an invasion of the stadium that cost two penalty points in the standings, and then the resignation of the management.

However, the sale was closed and in 1997 Brighton found themselves without a stadium to play in, a rarity for English football whose teams, even the smaller ones, have a loyal following and are considered good for the communities. Without a stadium, the team had to travel seventy kilometers north to play their matches in Gillingham, a small town outside London. Thus Brighton was left without football.

It took the new management two seasons to reach an agreement with the local administration and to return the team to their hometown, where they began using a small stadium built for athletics.

In the early 2000s, the main character behind the recent successes entered society: Tony Bloom, until then mostly known Like the professional bookmaker nicknamed “The Lizard” for his expressions during poker games.

Tony Bloom, right, and fans on the field after promotion to the Premier League (Getty Images)

He graduated in mathematics in Manchester, then worked for the multinational Ernst & Young and in finance in London, in 1998 he started talking about his millionaire bet in the World Cup, which he won as expected by France. In 2000 he became a minority shareholder in Brighton, the team he supported, and took full control nine years later. By that time, Bloom had already helped expand the world of online betting in the UK by setting up several private agencies, often reselling them when the business started. His winnings at the poker tables – mostly entertainment – turned out to be millionaires.

When data collection and statistical analysis were not yet as prevalent in football as in other sports, Bloom was among the first to adopt analytic strategies as a corporate standard, and tried to think and act outside the existing charts, and thus differently from what they did. .others. In doing so, he used Starlizard, the company he previously created to provide accurate advice and predictions about the world of football through the use of statistical models he developed himself.

Meanwhile, Brighton, which has been renovated and outfitted with their new €75m stadium, has begun sifting through the lesser-regarded leagues, looking for and capturing players with characteristics others don’t know about. In preparation for the Premier League, he brought to England the Argentine striker Leonardo Oloa, who later joined the league-winning Leicester City with Claudio Ranieri. He launched the career of Jesse Lingard, later called up by Manchester United, and Ben White, hired at the age of 17 and sold last summer to Arsenal for 58 million euros.

Experienced players have not made it to Brighton, not even in the Premier League: the company’s line has always been defined by numbers, in making players work who are not understood anywhere else, as in the case of the thirty-year-old. Defender Dan Byrne, already bought at an advanced age for less than 4 million euros, was resold last summer for 15 million euros to Saudi-owned Newcastle. Or, like Leo Østigård, he bought nineteen in Norway and recently sold it in Italy: first on loan to Genoa, then to Naples for 5 million euros.

The same was done with Graham Potter, who, having stopped playing in the English minor leagues before bidding Östersund, is a team from a small Swedish town in the fourth division. In eight seasons, he led Östersund to the National First Division and qualification for the European Cups. After that climb, Potter was called back to Britain by Swansea in 2018, and the following year he was chosen by Brighton as a replacement for Chris Hughton.

Graham Potter after winning with Brighton earlier this season (Bryn Lennon / Getty Images)

The management methods and innovations Brighton has made are also attested by the impact it has had on other realities. Matthew Benham, for example, is the football alter ego of Billy Bean, the general manager of Auckland Athletics His pioneering vision of baseball through the use of statistics forced all other teams to reconsider their evaluation methods (the story that later inspired a successful book and movie). Moneyball).

But before you come Small team from London Without the youth sector in the English Premier League, and before disturbing the Danish league with the unknown Central JutlandBenham, a physics graduate from Oxford University, was one of Bloom’s business partners.

Since 2018, Brighton also owns a satellite company in the Saint-Gilles district of Brussels. In his Belgian investment, Bloom did not use the small company Union Saint-Gilloise as a branch only. Together with a partner entrusted with day-to-day management, he replicated the methods behind Brighton’s fortunes, however, he enjoyed greater freedom of action, but in a context where similar approaches remain unexplored. In less than four years, Union turned the Belgian league upside down and last season I risked winning The national title, as it was newly promoted, with the second-choice team still playing in the middle of the woods, which no one saw, almost like Brighton.

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