BRIGHTON have secured promotion to the Premier League to complete a rags to riches journey to football’s elite.
The South Coast club have gone from the brink of extinction to the riches of the top flight on a remarkable journey that gives every club in England hope.
Chris Hughton’s side beat Wigan 2-1 on Monday to clinch automatic promotion – and now they want to finish the job by winning the Championship title.
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But then the hard work starts for Hughton as he looks to make sure his squad are capable of mixing it with the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United next season.
SunSport’s EFL expert Tom Barclay gives you the lowdown on the club and whether the team will be able to survive in the Premier League.
Who are Brighton and what is their history?
IT HAS been 34 years since the Seagulls last graced the top flight.
That means the club have never taken part in the Premier League – and will become the 48th side to play in the modern-age highest tier of English football next season.
But during that long wait there have been some desperate times that true Albion fans will never forget.
Twenty years ago Robbie Reinelt’s strike against Hereford on the final day of the season saved them from slipping out of the Football League.
And while the state-of-the-art Amex stadium is Prem level, the same could not be said for its Withdean ground predecessor.
The club also groundshared with Gillingham at the Priestfield for a couple of years too.
The Amex move came in 2011 and though there have been some memorable games played here for Brighton, ironically perhaps the standout fixture was when Japan beat
South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup!
Along with the ground, the training complex at Shoreham is outstanding and has been used by the England Under-21s.
The fabulous infrastructure has made up a considerable part of the £250million invested into the club over the past decade by chairman Tony Bloom.
Brighton have made the play-offs in three out of the last four seasons, succumbing in the semi-finals every time.
Last season was particularly galling, as Chris Hughton’s side missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, despite amassing 89 points which would have seen them finish in the top two for seven of the previous ten campaigns.
But Bloom, who made his money in sports betting and is also a successful poker player, knows he has played his cards right this year with Hughton always a safe bet to take them up.
Is the squad good enough and where do they need to improve?
A FEW years ago, you would have said no.
But given how well the likes of Burnley and Bournemouth have fared with largely the same set of players in the top flight, don’t write off this ambitious squad from emulating their success.
Reinforcements will still be needed though, at left-back, left-wing and central midfield, as well as competition for veteran right-back Bruno, in spite of his Benjamin Button capabilities.
The one area major surgery is required is up front. Sam Baldock is a willing worker but lacks goals, while Tomer Hemed has played second fiddle to ageing Glenn Murray for much of this campaign.
Who will shock the Prem?
YOU have to look at Anthony Knockaert.
The French flyer has been a revelation since joining from Standard Liege in January last year and was recently crowned Championship Player of the Year.
He has had one season in the top flight with Leicester three years ago where he struggled to make an impact.
But as Kevin Phillips, who coached the winger at the King Power, told SunSport on Monday, Knockaert was a victim of a formation change to wing-backs which saw him largely unused.
Ex-Sunderland star Phillips also said the Foxes ditched Knockaert too soon and expects him to shine in the Prem next season.
And who is going to argue with someone who is probably the greatest example of a player transforming his hot form in the second tier to the big league?
VETERAN skipper Bruno.
The Spanish right-back, 36, is like a fine Rioja – maturing brilliantly with age.
His ease on the ball means many of Brighton’s attacks begin with him at the back.
While he has formed a formidable partnership with Anthony Knockaert down the right.
To the uninitiated, there may be concerns over the ex-Valencia’s pace in the Premier League.
But the hipster-looking ace is no slouch and his football intelligence means he has rarely been caught out defensively.