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Club News

PAUL WHELCH 1960-2017

6 April 2017

One of the club's great supporters has passed away.

All at Brighton & Hove Albion are saddened to learn of the death of supporter and Seagulls Over London founder and chairman Paul Whelch at the age of 57 - and the thoughts of everyone at the club are with Paul's partner Erika and his many friends at this time.

Paul was instrumental in the fight to save the club during the 1990s, initially as a writer for the fanzine Gulls Eye and member of BISA (Brighton Independent Supporters Association); and in 1994, he founded Seagulls Over London, for Albion fans living and working in the capital.

In the latter part of that decade he became a crucial part of the Save the Albion campaign, and it was together with Evening Argus reporter Paul Bracchi and fellow accountant Paul Samrah, the three Pauls discovered that the Archer-Stanley-Bellotti regime had removed the 'no-profit' clause from the club's articles of association and alerted the Football Association.

Once Albion's immediate future had been saved, as Dick Knight became chairman, Paul was an active member of the Bring Home the Albion campaign, with the aim of getting the club back from Gillingham and playing home games at Withdean Stadium - where Paul also managed the fan-led 'litter-picking' team, dubbed the Wombles of Withdean, who cleared up after each home match, as part of the planning agreement with Brighton & Hove City Council.

Having achieved the goal of bringing Albion back to the city, fans' attentions turned to a more permanent solution and Paul was a member of the supporter-led Falmer For All team, tasked with convincing the rest of the city to vote "YES, YES" at a 1999 referendum to decide whether Falmer was the best site for a stadium.

After a landslide success, the team then turned to supporting Martin Perry's project team in securing planning permission for the American Express Community Stadium - permission eventually came in 2005, and of course the stadium was built and opened for business six years later.

Last year, Seagulls Over London celebrated their 21st anniversary, following the Birmingham City home match at the Amex, with Paul and the members converging on the club's museum and then celebrating with a banquet in the 1901 Club - no doubt in Paul's case, washed down with several pints of Harveys!

Like so many, Paul was one of the true heroes of the club's darkest days of the 1990s, a constant voice, speaking up for the club. An Albion stalwart, and one who will be sorely missed.

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