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Roberto De Zerbi: Brighton chief Paul Barber on manager’s future & club success


In an era of over-spending, Brighton are viewed as the gold standard for how to run a club properly.

They do owe Bloom £373m and paid their owner £36m out of a club record £122.8m profit announced last month. But Barber points out a large part of that debt was because of construction of the Amex Stadium.

The stadium’s capacity can be increased beyond its current 31,876, but “by hundreds not thousands”, says Barber. A new fan zone is intended to keep people in the stadium vicinity longer, increasing spend and also taking some of the pressure off rail services that take supporters to and from the out-of-town venue.

But, for funding purposes, Brighton remain wedded to their model, which Barber has committed to with a new contract to 2030.

The philosophy is theoretically simple: scour the world for talent, which is recruited, honed and sold on for a vast profit. Think Moises Caicedo, signed as an 18-year-old from Ecuador for £4.5m, loaned to Belgian club Beerschot, then sold to Chelsea for £115m two years after his arrival.

However, Southampton and Leicester have been lauded in the past for their recruitment model. Both spent this season in the Championship when it went wrong.

Something as unpredictable as a crippling injury list – Brighton have lost Solly March, Joao Pedro, Kaoru Mitoma and Billy Gimour for long periods – can also send a season spiralling into freefall.

“Losing Caicedo and (Alex) Mac Allister, we knew it would be very difficult to replace them like for like overnight,” says Barber. “What we couldn’t foresee was the number of injuries to critical players at critical periods in the season.

“What Roberto has done to keep us in the top 10 and the last 16 of the two biggest knockout competitions has been remarkable. I don’t think he has got half as much praise as he deserves for that achievement alone.”



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