'We have lost a lot of good people - and Chelsea have taken a lot of them'

Paul Barber and Tony Bloom
[Getty Images]

In an extended interview with BBC Sport, Paul Barber, the CEO who joined Brighton in 2012 - five years before they were promoted to the Premier League - has reflected on the turnover of staff while the team have achieved historic landmarks in recent seasons.

Manager Graham Potter joined Chelsea in September 2022 and key recruitment personnel Paul Winstanley and Sam Jewell have also since made the move to Stamford Bridge.

“We have lost good people - and Chelsea have taken a lot of them,” says Barber.

"They are taking the hose, not the water supply. The water supply is Tony [Bloom] and the incredible data we use.

“We work very hard on succession planning. It is one of the things I am obsessive about. I try every day to think about what would happen if we were to lose one of our top 20-25 people, on and off the field. Not players – staff. Who would be the obvious replacement and where are they? Are they ready to step up?

“Player recruitment is not a perfect science. We have a 'twin track' of investing a lot of money in our academy to find players on our own doorstep and finding talent from parts of the world others are not even looking in, let alone recruiting from. It is that part which gives us confidence.”

Barber also spoke about the 'new deal' for EFL clubs and the proposed financial handout which has been put on hold by the Premier League.

“We understand why the EFL is concerned,” says Barber. “We understand why the government are concerned. But we want to be sure what we do is fair for everyone.

“There are clubs in the leagues below us who have owners who are wealthier than ours. The concept of working really hard and investing in Brighton’s case, over 26 or 27 years, to go from the basement of the Football League to a top-six position in the Premier League to create a relative amount of success for ourselves... To suddenly have to hand over the proceeds of that success to somebody without knowing how they will use the additional money, potentially on players with the aim of replacing us, is a complex concept.

"We need to fully understand the consequences.

“That is not to say, in our case, we have forgotten where we have come from, because we certainly haven’t, and it doesn’t mean to say we don’t consider the pyramid to be sacrosanct, because we do.

“We want the whole game to feel sustainable for every community in the country. But we can’t do that if it is going to damage our progress and our continuity and our stability. That would be bizarre.”

Read more from Barber's BBC Sport interview