After three years of being a loyal season ticket holder at the Albion, next year I’m not going to bother. Actually, this is because I’m planning on going to University next year, but even if I wasn’t I would be having second thoughts about getting one. This is because Brighton annoy me.
The first three seasons at the Amex were great. After being promoted to the championship from league one, we had a really enjoyable first season which ended in a 10th place finish. The next season was even better: we came very close to automatic promotion before finishing 4th. The season that came after was good again, again finishing in the play offs in 6th. The fun had to end soon, and unfortunately this season was the year that we saw it happen.
The season started with a mix of promise and uncertainty. With Champions League final winner and Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia taking the manager’s job after Oscar Garcia resigned, things looked exciting. He’s a very big name, and before we’d seen him in action how were we supposed to know he couldn’t manage a fart on a diet of baked beans? On the other hand, with last season’s top scorer Leo Ulloa leaving for Leicester along with player of the season Matt Upson and winger Will Buckley who left for Sunderland – replacing adequately was essential. Unfortunately it would seem that Tony Bloom would disagree, putting a miniscule about of money into the transfer fund in comparison to what was made from player sales. Essentially the spine of the team was let go, and its replacement filled with players from the bargain bucket.
This season has been an absolute nightmare, with very few highlights or moments to remember. I am writing this now because yesterday, with Millwall being effectively relegated after losing 2-0 to Blackburn, Brighton have managed to scrape to safety and avoid the dreaded relegation to league one. I would say I was relieved, but really I don’t care either way. What I have seen this year has completely destroyed any passion that I had for the club, and it may take a while to return.
It’s not just the fact that we have been utterly awful all year. Whilst that is undoubtedly a factor, I really feel as if the Albion has lost its identity over the past year or so. What was once a community club is becoming more and more corporate and money driven, and this can only be a bad thing for the fans. Brighton used to stand out from the crowd, a rather unique club. They gained a reputation as a down to earth, ‘for the fans’ sort of club. This reputation seems to have been lost in the depths modern football, which is becoming more and more commercial by the day.
A great example of how ridiculous modern football has become is in the Spanish top division, the Liga BBVA. Specifically speaking, I mean Real Madrid and Barcelona. It has got to the point that they are dictated by premium channels such as Sky Sports so much that they never play at the same time as the rest of the division and the money they each received for this has allowed both teams to splash over £80m on singular players. This is quite obviously ridiculous – but the most unbelievable fact is that Real Madrid now employ a 16 year old “young prospect”, on £80,000 per week. Sixteen years old. Eighty Thousand pounds. Per week. This ‘man’ is Martin Odegaard, a Norweigan attacking midfielder who they signed from Strømsgodset. The most ridiculous thing about this is that he is yet to prove anything at all to say that he will ever be worth paying him anywhere near that salary, yet he has already been guaranteed over £20,000,000 from his 5 year contract. Surely this can only destroy any sort of motivation the kid may have had to aim to become one of the best, thus hindering his chances of success massively. He no longer needs to try anymore, as he is set for life by the age of 16. This is the most extreme example of this sort of thing so far, but who knows how far it can go? It wasn’t even too long ago that the first player was bought for a fee of £1,000,000, and this has risen by 9000% in the past 30-40 years
Football has become a corrupting, almost alien parallel world purely due to an increase of money in the game – with a hint of added tacky Americanism. It’s hard to see the sport as ‘the beautiful game’ anymore. The game I used to love has been hugely dampened and it’s hard to imagine it improving any time soon. But to me, the most disappointing thing is that my beloved Brighton have been sucked into the commercial modernisms and the club’s fantastic reputation and community feel has been tarnished. In conclusion – at football, I am angry. At Brighton and Hove Albion, for being conquered by modern football – I’m not angry: I’m just disappointed.