BRIGHTON, England — Floor-to-ceiling windows in Paul Barber’s modest office offer panoramic views of the lush green driving ranges of Brighton and Hove Albion. Brighton and Hove Albion are the premier league football teams he has run for the last 11 years. But the secret to Brighton’s success is his eyes.
“It’s all there,” Barber said one afternoon, pointing to his laptop on his neat white desk. The computer contains files containing the names of preferred replacements for at least 25 of his key figures working at the club.
Players, Coaches, Backroom Staff, Officials: Barbers should consider each potential replacement (or two or three) should something happen to them or if they choose to move on. have already identified. There are even suggestions as to who should replace Barber as CEO. No, he won’t show you his name.
But that file is largely why Brighton’s peers and much wealthier rivals now view the club with envy. strictly enforced by
The use of the list has become increasingly sought after in recent years, but this season, the biggest test of the system so far, saw Brighton, who played in the third division of English football in 2011, rise to seventh in the world. The richest football league. Its position is four places ahead of Chelsea, which hosts Brighton on Saturday, and has stripped opponents of both players and coaching staff in the past year, and that privilege. paying a lot of money to and still questioning myself looking good. Up to Brighton in the standings.
Barber was just a month into the season when he got a call from Chelsea’s American co-owner Todd Boley. Boley had asked permission to speak to Brighton coach Graham Potter, who has won accolades and respect for the work he has done since being recruited from second-tier Swansea in 2019. He is an Englishman.
It soon became clear that Potter wanted to accept the offer to manage Chelsea, a club with a bigger name, bigger budget and bigger ambitions. I didn’t just want Potter. Boehly told Barber that Chelsea also wanted to hire five Brighton staffers.
What happened next at both clubs is perhaps the clearest indication of why Brighton’s sophisticated and promising system itself has become so well-respected within the sport. Chelsea, a team well-funded but with nothing resembling a plan, have already sacked Potter. After Brighton pivoted briefly to first name on another list of potential coaches held by Bloom, Italy’s Roberto De Zerbi is headed for the best season in its history.
Bloom decided that De Zerbi would be best suited for his possession-based, possession-based attacking style and profile of the players on the club’s roster. All formalities were completed within a week and De Hezerbi only signed a contract with his former club Shakhtar as the war in Ukraine forced him to leave Donetsk. Brighton, as usual, never missed a beat.
“As a club our size, one of the tricks we have to try and do is evolution,” said Barber. “So what we don’t want to do is have to build a team for this coach and this coach leaves and build a completely different team for the next coach.”
As Chelsea have discovered, this can be very costly and requires the kind of resources Brighton do not have at their disposal.
“Our challenge is to continue to evolve from coach to coach with more or less the same team,” said Barber.
next man up
Brighton’s succession planning is perhaps most evident on its roster, giving exactly what it needs long before it’s needed thanks to a bespoke, closely held model developed by its owner, a mathematician. It is perhaps the most visible example of the club’s ability to predict.
“This is a database of people, performance levels and attributes that will allow us to more accurately predict whether players from country X are likely to adapt to play in the Premier League. All other conditions. are the same,” said Barber.
For example, take the story of Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma, who signed for the summer of 2021. The 25-year-old Mitoma had chosen to finish her university studies before embarking on her professional career. However, after a belated debut season in Japan, Brighton saw good chances of signing him.
Due to visa requirements, Mitoma’s first season was spent on loan at Union Saint-Giroise, a Belgian team also owned by Bloom, although he was at Brighton at the beginning of the season. Brighton posted an eight-figure profit when they granted Leandro Trossard’s desire to leave in January. transfer to arsenal — Mitoma was in the perfect position to slip into an empty spot in the lineup. He quickly became one of Brighton’s most dangerous players, as well as one of his Premier League breakout stars.
That timing is what makes the system work, Barber said. “Usually we try to find replacements for players who we think could get through the door,” he said, before his predecessor was sold.
He gave the example of Ecuadorian Moisés Caicedo, who was brought in in preparation for the eventual sale of midfielder Yves Bizuma in 2021 at the age of 19. If Brighton tried to recruit a replacement after selling Bissoma, Barber said, he would likely have been faced with paying a higher price or rejecting one he couldn’t afford.
“There is nothing worse than having the money come in and then go to the market and make a big transfer,” he said. Barber has seen a string of other player names already in the club’s books, ready to step in should a similar situation arise, and can see a savvy signature line. Brighton, for example, has something that many big clubs don’t have. It’s the World Cup champion (midfielder Alexis Mack Allister).
There are other ways to beat big clubs to players. Evan Ferguson, a prodigious 18-year-old striker who made his professional debut for Ireland at the age of 14, has chosen Brighton among a number of Premier League suitors in January 2021. He saw it as a more direct route to gaining Premier League minutes than the longer (and less certain) route that could go through the youth teams of top clubs.
Less than a year after joining Brighton, Ferguson moved to the first team. He played an active role as a main force in the second half of the season. “Look,” he said.
Brighton’s model relies on transferring players at the right price at the right time and continually reinvesting the funds received into the team. The club now has one of the youngest teams in the Premier League, a multinational cast recruited for both Brighton’s potential as a player and future value for someone else.
In many cases the pitch choosing Brighton over the big names is simple. Join Brighton today and take the chance to prove yourself in the Premier League and move to your dream club.
“I always say to my players: ‘We have Manchester City and Bayern, but if we do well, we’ll sell them,'” said Sam Jewell, Brighton’s head of recruiting. He was promoted to his current position after his boss went to Chelsea.
However, any successful system will eventually create new pressures. Brighton faced a tough test in his January and Caicedo, who went from obscurity to one of the world’s most coveted players in a year, publicly asked for a move. Bigger rivals had come full circle and were ready to bid top dollar for his services. This replacement plan had not yet been implemented.
“It may have been the right time for him and the Premier League clubs that wanted the player, but it wasn’t the right time for us. I defused the situation by reminding him that there will come a time when he wants to get out of the way.
By then, Brighton could be another proposition, with the team playing in European competition for the first time in its history and possibly even celebrating its first major trophy.
“We want to go to a place where players, coaches and staff ask if this is the right time, if it’s the right club and if it is necessary to leave,” said Barber. rice field. He felt this tug himself, receiving (and rejecting) similar offers for his talent.
At the heart of the project is owner Bloom. He has poured a huge sum of over $500 million into the club since buying it in 2009, and has seen his intricate and highly secretive modeling validated. He built a system that allowed Brighton to stay several moves ahead of its competitors. However, his name is not on Barber’s file because there is no replacement for Bloom.
“He’s the only one,” said Barber.