Brighton & Hove Albion's annual fans' forum took place at the Amex last night, in the 1901 Club Bupa Lounge, with an excellent turnout from fans - who quizzed the panel of chairman Tony Bloom, manager Chris Hughton and chief executive Paul Barber.
The first question was put to Tony, and he was asked about speculation around the future of Lewis Dunk. The Albion chairman told fans that it's an aspect of modern football that every player has a price, "We want Lewis to stay for a long time, but it would be ridiculous for me to say that a player is never for sale."
Chris was asked about the development squad, and his thoughts on promoting younger players to the first-team, and explained, "If you look at the first-team squad, Lewis Dunk and Jake Forster-Caskey are two who have come through - and Glen Rea has been with the squad throughout pre-season.
"Ultimately the aim is to develop as many players through the system and bring them through, but sometimes it is about timing. If we have opportunities to bring players through, that is what we want to do, but my responsibility is to get the very best from the group.
"You can bring players through, like we have with Ben White and James Tilley in pre-season, but, like them, they have to be good enough to play in your first team."
Paul was asked if he was pleased to have sold so many Zs in the club shop this week, to which he responded, "Very much so," and revealed that 80% of shirt purchases have been with 25 - Zamora on the back.
Tony also gave his view on the return of Bobby Zamora, "It's great to have Bobby back after 12 years, it's great news for the club. It's great for the fans and I can't wait to see him score goals."
The manager was quizzed on his transfer targets, and explained, "Without giving too much away, it's no secret we want to improve the options we have to score goals - either starting players or as part of the squad.
"We readily admit that we had a lot of tight games last season, and during my time, apart from Watford, who beat us 2-0, we only lost by one goal in each game. If we were better at the other end we would have finished a lot higher than we did.
"Other than Glen Rea, who has done really well in pre-season, we only have Lewis Dunk and Gordon Greer at centre-half, so that is another area we need to add some cover."
The boss also went onto give his thoughts on summer acquisition from Real Madrid Jack Harper, adding, "It's a wonderful signing for us, he had options to go to other clubs, but with the facilities we have here, he really has the opportunities to develop here.
"Firstly he needs to get fit, and it will take six to eight weeks before he is fully fit and ready to play. He can play right across the forward areas, or off the front. I've seen a certain amount of him; he's a creative type and he's of an age where he can develop."
Paul gave an insight into Albion's aim to bring in an extra wide player, and says he expects the recruitment to continue through the window right up until the transfer deadline.
"We are working on it, but we are not the only club looking; there is a budget as always. In an ideal world the transfer window would end a week before the season starts, and what tends to happen is the transfer window goes right to the deadline, and we are part of a much bigger process."
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The chairman and chief executive spoke on FFP rules, and how they have been relaxed and the threshold raised, which has meant that some of the transfers in the Championship have been bigger than in previous seasons.
Paul explained that the market has become tougher, with an expectation that clubs will pay more for players and wages.
Tony was quizzed on what the club had learned from last season, and Bloom explained, "How we react and what we learn from it is important. Having the continuity in the manager's position is vital.
"Players will have learned a lot about each other. We didn't get thrashed last season, but we didn't score enough goals and that is the situation we need to rectify. We have spent a lot of time looking at last season, what went wrong, and what we need to improve upon."
He also paid tribute to Albion's medical team for delivering such a good pre-season, and for giving the manager an injury-free squad going into the new season.
Tony also spoke about the recruitment side of the club, and was asked if he was pleased following the December reshuffle, which saw Paul Winstanley take on the recruitment side.
"Paul Winstanley was promoted and is head of recruitment. David Burke's role was multi-faceted, and we brought in Paul Mullen to look after the administrative and academy side. I think perhaps there was too much in David's role, and splitting it out makes much more sense."
The last word went to the boss, on Zamora: "This is a player who is very much up to speed, and has been for the last season, playing thirty-plus times in the Premier League. We aim to get him as fit as we can do - but tomorrow might just come a bit too soon."
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