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Even With No Manager, Brighton & Hove Albion Is Stronger Than Much Of The Premier League – Forbes

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 07: Graham Potter, Manager of Brighton & Hove Albion celebrates with … [+] Adam Lallana after the Premier League match between Manchester United and Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on August 07, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
It was little wonder the departing Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter asked Seagulls fans for forgiveness.
Fresh off an impressive 5-2 victory over Leicester City, with the Seagulls riding high in the Premier League, Potter decided to jump ship to Chelsea taking the majority of the club’s backroom staff with him.
As a consequence, it’s the club’s under-21 coach taking first-team training sessions assisted by veteran midfielder Adam Lallana.
“I may not be able to persuade you all to forgive my departure – but I would at least like to take the chance to say thank you,” Potter wrote in an open letter to fans. “I hope that you will understand that at this stage of my career, I felt I had to grasp a new opportunity.”
Unusually, for a departing soccer coach, Potter also offered some words to whoever follows him at Brighton: “To my successor, whoever that may be, I would say, ‘congratulations’. You’ll be working for a great club with a fantastic squad, supported by a great chairman and board,” Potter added.
The outgoing boss is not wrong in his description, pound-for-pound the club has one of the best setups in the entire league.
This is not something that has happened by chance, it is the deserved result of decades of patient strategy.
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 18: Bobby Zamora of Brighton celebrates scoring their first goal during … [+] the Nationwide League Division One match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Portsmouth at the Withdean Stadium in Brighton, England on January 18, 2003. (Photo By Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
You don’t have to wind the clock back too far to find an era when outgoing managers would not be extolling the virtues of Brighton to their colleagues.
Around 20 years ago, the club was rattling around the lowest divisions of the English game, in financial trouble and playing games at a converted running track owned by the council after it sold its stadium.
Even their blue and white striped kit seemed to be poking fun at the Seagulls. The club’s shirt sponsor was the record label ‘Skint;’ a slang term for having no money.
That all changed with the 2008 takeover of the club by professional gambler turned entrepreneur Tony Bloom.
The new owner set in motion plans to build a new stadium for the club and created a structure that saw them sustainably climb the divisions.
That sounds straightforward, but you have to understand that, while Brighton has always been a club with potential, they are not a team with a storied past. Brighton has never won a major trophy or even traditionally been a top-flight side.
But with many of the English game’s more famous names throwing good money after bad, adhering to a boom and bust economic policy, the Brighton hierarchy was able to do better by being smarter.
Rather than hiring big-name managers or bringing in famous players the club gradually built within its means.
More significantly they were also one of the first clubs to harness the power of data to give themselves a competitive advantage.
Using the wealth of information accumulated by Bloom’s analytics company, which powers his gambling business, the club has reportedly been able to scout players more effectively.
The specifics of exactly how the club harnesses these insights are for, obvious reasons, not publicized.
But there has been a visible pattern of recruiting unfashionable players from lesser-known leagues, who fit within a particular system and have significant resale value.
Indeed, Potter fits a similar criteria as a manager, someone who cut his teeth in unconventional settings with unique methods.
COBHAM, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 08: New Head Coach Graham Potter of Chelsea at Chelsea Training Ground … [+] on September 8, 2022 in Cobham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)
The Brighton model of finding overlooked talent also works on the basis that, should the players or staff reach their potential, the club won’t prevent them from fulfilling their ambitions at another team.
As chief executive Paul Barber explained: ”People in our club know that we have a culture where we want people to do well and progress and it’s up to us to make sure we’ve got good people coming in behind them to keep the progress that we are making ongoing.”
“Football clubs are not prisons. We are not in a position to hold employees against their will. What we try to do as much as we can is protect ourselves with contracts. Contracts, we hope, will always be respected, but where people have an outstanding opportunity and they feel that it’s better for them, their careers, their families, then we’ve got an open mind.”
In many regards this is nothing new, clubs with lesser reputations have always had to devise ways to outmaneuver the richer teams with storied histories and big stadiums
But the stakes now involved at the highest levels of the game have meant the boom and bust approach is so costly it can decimate those that get it badly wrong.
A club like Brighton could lose it all trying to gamble on success. Thanks to its sustainable data-driven model its place in the top division is not reliant on an overachieving manager like Potter.

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