Brighton and Hove are twin towns, now combined as one city, on the South Coast of England in the county of Sussex, and are well known as tourist destinations. Professional football in the area was the brainchild of Edgar Everest, a Sussex Football Association official who founded Brighton United in 1897. Playing at the Sussex County Cricket Ground, the club collapsed in 1900. A high-class amateur side, Brighton & Hove Rangers, was formed in its wake but also folded after just one year.
Albion’s first season, 1901/02, saw them play at the County Cricket Ground in Hove, in the Second Division of the Southern League (which was then a rival to the Football League as the top league in England). However, the best football ground in the area was the Goldstone Ground, the home of amateur side Hove FC. They could not afford the rent on their own, so they invited Albion to share the ground from 1902. The arrangement lasted for two years before Hove departed, leaving Albion to lease the ground themselves. In 1930 they purchased the Goldstone outright, and remained there until 1997.
In 1903, Albion won the Second Division of the Southern League alongside Fulham, and earned promotion to the First Division with a play-off win over Watford. After one year in the higher grade the club converted to a limited company, and introduced a new playing strip in place of the all-blue shirts: blue and white stripes, which became Albion’s traditional colours. (However, all-blue, blue with white sleeves, and even all-white strips have also been worn in some seasons).
Seven years after making their First Division debut, Albion won the Southern League title in 1910. Guided by manager John Robson, the team secured first place with a home win over their only rivals, Swindon Town, on 23 April, a triumph that was marked with the now-traditional pitch invasion by supporters at the final whistle.
Securing the Southern League title also earned Albion a match against Aston Villa, the Football League champions, for the FA Charity Shield (now the Community Shield). Winning 1-0 at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea FC) with a goal from Irish international Charlie Webb, Albion were dubbed “Champions of England”. Around this time supporters began to adopt, and adapt, a popular song of the day, Sussex by the Sea, as their own. A rousing march written by William Ward-Higgs, it remains the club’s traditional theme song to this day – played as the team runs out, and sung with gusto by fans.
It was also sung in the lanes of France and Flanders by British soldiers during the First World War. Hostilities broke out in 1914, but a full season was played amid great controversy before professional football was abandoned. Most Albion players joined the Army, and the club closed down in 1915 for four years. Four players including long-serving goalkeeper Bob Whiting, plus the groundsman and many supporters, lost their lives in the conflict.
When the war ended, the Goldstone Ground was restored and normal football began again in 1919. However, 1919/20 was the last season of the Southern League in its prime form, and the First Division clubs were taken on by the Football League to form a Third Division (South) in 1920.
It took Albion 38 years to win the section and secure the one promotion berth available. Much of the interest between the wars was therefore reserved for the FA Cup. The club became renowned giant-killers, defeating First Division sides Oldham Athletic, Sheffield United, Everton and Chelsea in front of large crowds at the Goldstone Ground; and winning away at Grimsby Town, Portsmouth and Leicester City. A 1933 cup game against West Ham United brought 32,310 spectators to the Goldstone, a record that lasted 25 years.
Albion kept playing throughout the Second World War and never failed to fulfil a fixture, but it was a struggle to survive. The directors of the nearby greyhound track took control of the club in 1940 to stave off financial ruin, while the German Luftwaffe did its best to disrupt proceedings. Three games at the Goldstone Ground were abandoned because of air-raid warnings, and the North Stand was bombed in August 1942 (but no one was hurt). Under the wartime regulations, Charlie Webb, who was manager from 1919 until 1947, called upon players of other clubs serving with the Army in the area, and even had to draft soldiers from the crowd on occasion to complete an eleven.
The resumption of normal football after the war saw attendances escalate to unprecedented numbers. In 1947/48, Albion finished bottom of the Football League for the only time and had to be voted back into the competition by their fellow members, but the average gate was over 11,000, a record. The following season it rose to more than 17,000. Throughout the 1950s the club played attacking football, attracted big crowds, and made several bids for promotion under manager Billy Lane. In 1955/56 they won 29 league games, scoring 112 goals, but could still only finish second to Leyton Orient.
The breakthrough finally came in 1957/58 when Albion needed a draw in the last game of the season to finish as champions. A 20-year-old reserve forward, Adrian Thorne, scored five times as the team thrashed Watford 6-0 at the Goldstone to ascend to the Second Division (now the Championship) for the first time.
Their debut in the higher grade came at Middlesbrough – and they lost 9-0! However, the team slowly recovered and finished the season twelfth of twenty-two clubs. The average gate soared to more than 22,000. On 27 December 1958 the largest home crowd in Albion history, 36,747, packed into the Goldstone Ground for the visit of Fulham. But the place in Division Two could not be sustained. In 1962 the club finished bottom – and then fell straight through the Third Division (now League 1) and into the Fourth (now League 2).
Albion and their supporters needed inspiration, and found it in the form of Bobby Smith, the Tottenham Hotspur and former England centre-forward who signed in 1964. His presence brought in thousands of extra supporters, and the gates averaged almost 18,000. A 3-1 win over Darlington in April 1965 in front of more than 31,000 fans secured the Fourth Division title, the team scoring 102 goals in the process. The club then spent seven years in the Third Division before securing promotion to Division Two for a second time in 1972, finishing runners-up to Aston Villa, but the adventure was soon over and they were relegated after just one season. It seemed as though the club was destined forever to be Third Division “also-rans”.
In 1973, however, the new chairman, Mike Bamber, signalled his ambition for the club when he secured Brian Clough as manager. The appointment of one of the most prominent figures in football thrust Albion into the spotlight – which was awkward as they lost 4-0 at home to amateurs Walton & Hersham in the FA Cup and then 8-2 to Bristol Rovers! Clough didn’t stay long, but his former assistant, Peter Taylor, assembled a good side including inspirational captain Brian Horton and a new young star in striker Peter Ward.
In this period there also began a great rivalry with Crystal Palace who, although some 40 miles away, were Albion’s nearest league neighbours. Having not faced each other for some time, the pair’s fortunes now coincided for several years, and a number of controversial clashes stoked the increasing rivalry. Indeed, it was Palace’s nickname of “Eagles” that prompted Albion fans to retort with a chant of “Seagulls!” The new nickname took off at a game between the two in February 1976 when more than 33,000 fans crammed into the Goldstone Ground to see Albion win 2-0, and has been in popular use ever since.
In 1976, Taylor resigned and was replaced by Alan Mullery, who took the team to promotion in his first campaign thanks largely to the 36 goals of Peter Ward, a club record for one season. But this time, rather than fight for Second Division survival, Albion challenged for a second promotion and bought impressive new players like Mark Lawrenson for more than £110,000. The average gate rose to more than 25,000 as fans flocked to the Goldstone to witness the attempt, but Albion were denied on goal difference by Spurs on the last day of the season.
Mullery and his team renewed their efforts in 1978/79 though, and secured a place in the First Division (now the Premier League) on 5 May 1979 with a 3-1 win in their final game, away to Newcastle United – a momentous day in the club’s history that was celebrated wildly on the 350-mile trip home. After a summer of expectation, the first match in the top flight, a home game against Arsenal, was lost 4-0. Albion looked out of their depth and fell to the bottom of the table. But then a win at Nottingham Forest, the champions of Europe, in November 1979 restored confidence, and they went on to finish four places clear of relegation.
A year later the team struggled throughout, but won its last four games to avert relegation on the last day. In 1981/82, under manager Mike Bailey, they finally made an impact at the other end of the First Division table and challenged for a UEFA Cup place for a time before falling away to finish thirteenth. Playing highly defensive football, they gained victories at the likes of Liverpool, Southampton and Spurs. However, the team made a poor start to the 1982/83 season and were soon in trouble. Bailey was replaced by Jimmy Melia, but the side went from bad to worse and were relegated after four seasons at the top table.
After four seasons, relegation to Division Three came in 1987, but the Albion bounced back the next season. In 1991 they lost the play-off final at Wembley to Notts County 3–1, only to be relegated the next season to the newly named Division Two. In 1996 further relegation came to Division Three. The club's financial situation was becoming increasingly precarious, and the club's directors decided that the Goldstone Ground would have to be sold to pay off some of the club's huge debts. Manager Jimmy Case was sacked after a very poor start to the 1996–97 season saw Brighton stuck at the bottom of the league by a considerable margin.
The club's directors appointed a relative unknown in Steve Gritt, the former joint manager of Charlton Athletic. Brighton's league form steadily improved under Gritt, although their improving chances of survival were put under further threat by a two-point deduction imposed as punishment for a pitch invasion by fans who were protesting against the sale of the Goldstone ground. A lifelong fan named Dick Knight took control of the club in 1997 having led the fan pressure to oust the previous board following their sale of the club's Goldstone Ground to property developers.
By the last day of the season, after being 13 points adrift at one stage, they were off the bottom of the table and had to play the team directly below them, Hereford United – the game was in their hands. If Brighton won or drew, they would be safe. Brighton defender Kerry Mayo scored an own goal in the first half and it looked as though their 77-year league career was over. But a late goal from Robbie Reinelt ensured that Brighton retained their league status on goals scored (despite Hereford having a better goal difference as, in the Football League at the time, goals scored took precedence), and Hereford's 25-year league run was instead over.
The sale of the Goldstone Ground went through in 1997, leading to Brighton having to play some 70 miles away at Gillingham's Priestfield stadium for two seasons. Micky Adams was appointed Brighton's manager in 1999. For the start of the 1999–2000 season the Seagulls secured a lease to play home games at Withdean Stadium, a converted athletics track in Brighton owned by the local council. 2000–01 was Brighton's first successful season for 13 years. They were crowned champions of Division Three and promoted to Division Two.
Adams left in October 2001 to work as Dave Bassett's assistant at Leicester, being replaced by former Leicester manager Peter Taylor. The transition proved to be a plus point for Brighton, who maintained their good form and ended the season as Division Two champions – winning a second successive promotion. Just five years after almost succumbing to the double threat of losing their Football League status and going out of business completely, Brighton were one division away from the Premier League.
During May 2009, Knight was replaced as chairman at Brighton by Tony Bloom, who had successfully secured £93 million funding for the new Falmer Stadium and secured 75% shareholding at the club. Brighton's final season at Withdean was 2010–11, in which they won League One. The following season, Brighton changed their crest to a design similar to the crest used from the 1970s to the 1990s. This was to reflect on the club returning home after not having a stadium since 1997.
The Falmer Stadium hosted its first league match on the opening day of the 2011–12 season against Doncaster Rovers, who were the last opposition to play at the Goldstone in 1997. The game finished 2–1 to Albion. The 2012–13 season saw Brighton finish 4th and lose in the play-off semi-finals to Crystal Palace. Poyet was suspended as manager following controversial comments made in his post-match interview, and was later sacked as manager and replaced by Oscar Garcia.
On the final day of the 2013–14 season, Brighton beat Nottingham Forest 2–1 with a last minute winner from Leonardo Ulloa to secure a 6th-place finish. After losing to Derby County in the play-offs semi-finals, García resigned. Ex-Liverpool defender Sami Hyypiä was appointed manager for the 2014–15 season but resigned after four months and was replaced by Chris Hughton. In the following campaign Brighton went on a 22-game unbeaten run from the opening day to 19 December when they lost 3–0 at home to Middlesbrough. On the final day of the season Brighton travelled to Middlesbrough and needed to win to secure promotion to the Premier League, but a 1–1 draw meant 3rd and a play-off place, where defeat to Sheffield Wednesday was Brighton's third playoff semi-final defeat in four seasons.
Brighton started 2016–17 with an 18-match unbeaten run, taking them to the top of the league for much of December and January. They remained in the automatic promotion positions for most of the rest of the season, and clinched promotion to the Premier League after a 2–1 win against Wigan Athletic at home on 17 April 2017. They broke their transfer record multiple times throughout the summer window, with the current club record signing of Jose Izquierdo commanding a fee reported to be over £13 million.
Brighton's first season back in the Premier League was largely successful, with the club rising into the top half several times in the season and never really being threatened with relegation, despite going on a run of 1 win in 12 games and falling to within a point of the drop zone. However they were able to recover, beating the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United to finish the season in 15th, seven points above the relegation zone.
** – Colours – **
For most of Brighton's history they have played in blue & white shirts, usually striped, with different combinations of white and blue shorts and socks, though this changed to all white briefly in the 1970s and again to plain blue during the club's most successful spell in the 1980s.
Since 2014 the club's kit has been manufactured by Nike. Previous manufacturers include Bukta (1971–74. 1975–80), Admiral (1974–75, 1994–97), Umbro (1975–77), Adidas (1980–87), Spall (1987–89), Sports Express (1989–91), Ribero (1991–94), Superleague (1997–99), and Erreà (1999–2014). Their current shirt sponsors are American Express. Previous sponsors have included British Caledonian Airways (1980–83), Phoenix Brewery (1983–86), NOBO (1986–91), TSB Bank (1991–93), Sandtex (1993–98), Donatello (1998–99), Skint Records (1999–2008), IT First (2008–11), and BrightonandHoveJobs.com (2011–13).
Planning permission was given by the unitary authority of Brighton and Hove in June 2002, with the intention of the stadium being ready for the 2005–06 season. The plans for the stadium were opposed by neighbouring Lewes District Council and local residents. While the stadium lies completely within Brighton and Hove, part of the north-east of the site is in Lewes. Bennet's Field, as it is known, is now used for parking.
Further complications were due to both vacant fields, and the campus of the adjacent University of Sussex, being included in the South Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, although outside the National Park. This led to the designation of the stadium plans being the subject of a separate planning inquiry by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, approved the plans on 28 October 2005. However, Lewes District Council immediately mounted a new legal challenge to the stadium plan. In April 2006, Prescott admitted that he had given his approval based on the misconception that only a small part of the stadium site lay on the Lewes side, and withdrew it.
Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State responsible for planning, re-affirmed the approval on 25 July 2007. Her decision went against the advice of planning inspectors. Lewes District Council, Falmer Parish Council and the South Downs Joint Committee (the three main opponents) announced shortly afterwards that they would not mount a high court challenge. On 4 September 2007, the deadline for appealing the new grant of permission expired and the club received full permission to proceed.
On 27 November 2008 the Buckingham Group signed the construction contract for the new stadium and began preparation work on the site on 17 December. The stadium is set three storeys down into the ground. 138,000 cubic metres of chalk was excavated during its construction, which was put on the field on the south side of Village Way. This has been estimated to prevent 22,000 lorry trips taking the chalk to off-site landfill. Construction at the site started on 17 December 2008 and finished in May 2011. The stadium was designed with scope for expansion, and plans were put in place to increase the capacity.
The stadium was designed by London-based architects, KSS. The stadium capacity has been expanded, with an extra seating tier being installed above the East Stand (Family stand), which increases the capacity to about 30,000 seats. The deal with American Express Europe, Brighton and Hove's biggest private-sector employer, confirming the stadium's naming rights was announced on 22 June 2010.
The stadium officially opened on 30 July 2011, hosting a friendly match against then-Brighton manager Gus Poyet's old club Tottenham Hotspur, the home-side narrowly losing 3–2. The first competitive match was held on 6 August 2011, when Brighton beat Doncaster Rovers 2–1, after being 1–0 down. The stadium set its first record attendance with 21,897 against Liverpool. They were also the first away team to win a competitive match at the stadium, beating Brighton 2–1 in a League Cup tie in September 2011. The stadium witnessed its first league defeat in its history when rivals Crystal Palace came from behind to win 3-1.
The stadium uses hawks to scare away seagulls and pigeons. This stops pigeons nesting in the stadium. On 2 January 2012, Brighton & Hove Albion submitted an application to Brighton and Hove City council to increase the stadium capacity by a further 8,000 seats as well as to add additional corporate boxes, new television facilities and a luxury suite. This was granted unanimously by Brighton & Hove City Council's planning committee on 25 April 2012. The stadium was expanded to 27,250 by the start of the 2012–13 season, 27,750 by December 2012 and stood at 30,750 by the end of the 2012–13 season.
A new record attendance was set on 15 December 2012 when 26,684 saw Brighton draw 0–0 with Nottingham Forest. This record attendance was broken on 26 January 2013, when 27,113 attended a 3-2 defeat against Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup. There followed a series of record breaking attendances. Another new attendance record of 30,292 came on 2 May 2016, when Derby visited in the last home game of the 2015–16 season. A few weeks later this record was broken again when Brighton and Hove Albion played Sheffield Wednesday in the second leg of the Play-Offs. This game ended 1–1 which meant that Sheffield Wednesday went on to go to Wembley to play Hull City for a place in the Premier League. The record was broken once again on 24 September 2017 when 30,468 attended Brighton's 1–0 win over Newcastle United. The current record of 30,682 was set at a Premier League match against Liverpool on 12 January 2019.
On 25 March 2013, the stadium hosted England's under-21s international friendly against Austria's under-21s. In December 2018 it was announced that the stadium would be one of the venues for UEFA's 2021 Women's European Championship. The stadium hosted two Pool B matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The first match was between South Africa and Japan on 19 September 2015 where with 29,290 in attendance, Japan caused one of the biggest upsets in Rugby World Cup history by beating twice winners South Africa 34–32. The other match was between Samoa and United States with Samoa winning 25–16 with 29,178 in attendance. Before then, as a trial run pre-world cup, the stadium hosted the England U20s vs France U20s match in the final round of the 2015 Six Nations Under 20s Championship. The stadium was also nominated by Premiership Rugby as the potential home semi final location for Wasps in the 2014-15 European Champions Cup. Defeat in the quarter final vs Toulon however meant this didn't happen.
The West Stand is a three-tiered stand, which holds 11,833 fans, including 14 luxury boxes and the premium fans' 1901 Club. The East Stand (including the Family Stand) holds 13,654 fans, with 10% reserved for away fans during cup games. The North Stand has 2,688 seats. The South Stand, is for visiting away supporters which contains 2,575 seats.
As well as football matches, the stadium is also designed for other sports such as rugby and hockey, and music concerts, conferences and exhibitions. The stadium's drinking outlets offer real ales from two local breweries, Harveys and Dark Star, both organisations having supported the club's appeal for a new stadium at Falmer, along with special guest beers from breweries local to the away teams. The stadium also incorporates a banqueting and conference facility, a nursery school/crèche, 720 square metres of teaching space for the University of Brighton, 1,200 square metres of office space for the University of Sussex, the club shop for tickets and merchandise and above it the 200 capacity bar/lounge named Dick's Bar after the club's life president, Dick Knight.
** – Facilities – **
Tickets can also be purchased in the ticket office. The ticket office opening hours are as follows:
Supporters can also purchase tickets over the telephone by phoning 0844 327 1901 (Calls cost seven pence per minute plus your network charge). Please note that supporters are able to book online prior to tickets going on sale on the telephone.
The club offers a free personal assistant ticket to all those who require additional assistance to enable them to attend a match. Supporters requiring a personal assistant ticket must register proof of their disability with Supporter Services in advance of a matchday. Proof of disability includes the following:
PARK & RIDE 1 - SATNAV: BN1 8ZF (formerly Mill Road Park & Ride) Mill Road is the most popular park and ride site with 450 spaces available. The car park is usually full 1.5 hours before kick-off, so if you are running late you are advised to head to the park and ride at Brighton Racecourse site (see directions). Make sure you follow the directions to the Mill Road site carefully, as driving past the car park entrance could result in traffic congestion delays for up to 45 minutes.
Mill Road is located off the roundabout at the end of the A23 dual carriageway. Take the exit towards the petrol station and head under the narrow bridge. Stewards and signs will direct you to the parking and bus waiting area. If the site is full before you get there, please follow directions to Park and Ride 3 (formerly Brighton Racecourse) BN2 9XZ
PARK & RIDE 2 - SATNAV: BN2 4AT (formerly University of Brighton Park & Ride) University of Brighton has 350 spaces divided across the university car parks on both sides of Lewes Road. Bus journeys to the stadium take approximately 10 minutes. If you are heading for this site from the Lewes direction follow the directions below:
PARK & RIDE 3 - SATNAV BN2 9XZ (formerly Brighton Racecourse Park & Ride) The Brighton Racecourse site always has lots of spare capacity with 700 parking spaces available. Buses usually take approximately 20 minutes to reach the stadium.
Getting to Falmer Stadium By Train
For all Premier League games at the Amex they offer home and away fans complimentary train travel within the Free Travel Zone. Supporters must show their match ticket or season ticket card to obtain free travel. The nearest train station to the Amex is Falmer. The stadium is 250 metres from the station and has the following facilities:
Getting to Falmer Stadium by Bus
They also offer free bus travel within the designated bus Travel Zone. For details please refer to their travel guide at BrightonAndHoveAlbion.com and select ‘Fan Guide’ from the Supporters Guides. The stadium is served regularly by the number 25, 84, 50, 23 and 50U buses. The nearest stop to the stadium is ‘The Amex Stadium’. The buses have the following facilities:
The entire stadium perimeter is accessible: around the east side of the stadium is flat tarmac and on the west side there is a ramp.
Accessible Viewing Areas.
The stadium has a total of 185 wheelchair spaces in a variety of locations around the stadium. This includes pitchside and on raised platforms which give wheelchair users a choice of different prices and views. There are wheelchair spaces in the North Stand, East Lower, East Upper, South Stand (home and visiting supporters), West Lower and the West Middle Tier. Hospitality boxes also have one wheelchair space each.
There are a minimum of 17 spaces in the visitors’ stand, all of which are on a raised platform. (The overall number does depend on the size of the away allocation taken). Please note that the West Upper Tier is not accessible via lift. There are also in excess of 720 easy access seats. These are located in all stands excluding the West Upper Tier.
The ticket office, twinned with the club shop, is located on the north side of the stadium and has level access. Doors to the club shop are large and accessible and staff are always on hand to assist visitors.
There are two collection points for tickets:
The club superstore is located in the North Stand. It has level access in addition to the following:
** – Accessible toilets. – **
There are a total of 37 disabled toilets in the stadium and one Changing Places facility. These are found in the concourses, lounges, hospitality areas and Dick’s Bar. The disabled toilets have the following facilities:
They have a Changing Places facility (one of only three in Brighton) measuring 6.16m x 2.56m located in the East Stand in section E2A. The facilities are as follows:
** – Additional Facilities – **
DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING SUPPORTERS
BLIND OR VISUALLY IMPAIRED SUPPORTERS
Stadium Tour / Museum.
Whether or not you’re a fan of The Seagulls, a tour of The American Express Community Stadium is well worth your time if you ever find yourself at a loose end in Brighton. They run on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, even if there’s a 3pm kick off, and the tour lasts for about an hour and three quarters.
Whilst on the tour you’ll take in the upper part of The West Stand, the trophy room, the hospitality lounges, the press area, both sets of changing rooms and the dug-outs on the side of the pitch. Access to the club’s new museum, located next to Dick’s Bar, is also included in your ticket price. The whole thing costs £15 for adults and £7.50 to people under 16 or over 65.
Location : Brighton & Hove Albion FC, American Express Community Stadium, Village Way, Brighton BN1 9BL
Transport: Falmer (National Rail) then 5 minutes. Bus Routes: 25, 84, 50, 23 and 50U stop at the stadium.
Capacity : 30,750
Tel: 0344 324 6282