A warm welcome back to the Amex Stadium for our sixth consecutive season of Premier League football
It seems like only yesterday that we were welcoming Manchester City for our first ever Premier League game, and I’m delighted with the progress we’ve since made as a club.
This was never more evident than last season, where we broke a number of records including our highest ever top-flight finish [9th], while 51 points was our best points-per-game total at the highest level. And we’ve had a historic start to the new season with a brilliant first-ever win at Old Trafford.
It was important to reflect on the success of our achievements following the conclusion of last season, with Graham, his players and coaching staff rightly praised for all that they achieved. The challenge now is to keep improving, keep entertaining, and continue to work hard to cement our position as a top-ten club in the Premier League.
However, we do appreciate that we are playing in far and away the strongest league in the world – and it’s getting stronger and stronger. We know how tough the competition is, week in, week out, and we know our target is ambitious. Nevertheless, with the group of players and coaching team we have, backed by our excellent staff and you, our wonderful fans, I have hope and optimism as the campaign gets underway.
Julio Enciso is a player who we hope will make the same progress as our other South American signings in recent seasons, while we also welcome Deniz Undav, Kaoru Mitoma and Kacper Kozlowski to the club following their successful loan spells in the Belgian top flight at Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.
I would like to pay tribute to Yves Bissouma for his excellent contribution throughout his four years at the club, and also Marc Cucurella who excelled last season. I would like to wish both of them the very best for the future.
I feel confident in the strong squad we’ve assembled and while the transfer market remains fluid until the window shuts, we are under no pressure in terms of purchasing players. Graham, of course, has an excellent reputation for bringing through young players and this dovetails really well with the experienced players in our ranks who lead by example both on and off the pitch.
Dan Ashworth’s departure as technical director has seen David Weir step into the role seamlessly – overseeing all football operations, across both the men’s and women’s set-up – while Gordon Greer has moved into the position of pathway development manager. Allied to our brilliant recruitment team, headed by Paul Winstanley and assisted by Kyle Macaulay, we have a system in place that is working extremely well.
I would also like to take this opportunity to place on record my continued gratitude to Paul Barber, who is hugely important in the progression of our football club. A lot of what he does behind the scenes maybe doesn’t get noticed, but without him at the top, leading in so many different ways, we wouldn’t be the club we are today. He is a truly brilliant chief executive and we are really fortunate to have him.
The profile of women’s football has been raised immeasurably by the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022. I felt an enormous sense of pride as we hosted three of the tournament’s fixtures at the Amex this summer – including, of course, two England games. The atmosphere generated as the Lionesses emphatically beat Norway 8-0 at the group stage, then Spain 2-1 during the quarter-finals, was incredible and was matched by the quality on the pitch.
At Brighton & Hove Albion, we really believe in the women’s game and have put a lot of resources into our own Women’s First Team, most notably the new training facility at Lancing. So having these top international games here at the Amex this summer has been great for the club, great for the city, and has helped put our name on a wider map.
The success of Sarina Wiegman’s England side – and the tournament in general – will hopefully see an increase in attendances across the WSL this season, including at the Broadfield Stadium, Crawley, where we will again play most of our home games. We will also be playing some matches at the Amex this season – including our opening two home fixtures against Aston Villa and Reading. I wish Hope Powell and the team all the very best for the season ahead.
We are all aware that, as a nation, we are entering difficult times, with the cost-of-living crisis looming large for so many people. Therefore, we really do appreciate the loyalty and commitment shown to the club. That is also reflected in the launch of the Fan Advisory Board this summer. We are delighted to see this initiative taking place and hope it will become a really positive development as time progresses – not only for those selected onto the board but also for the wider fan base.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your tremendous, unwavering support. Our season ticket sales at the Amex have again been extremely positive; we are anticipating a number of sold-out fixtures at the stadium this season; and, as shown at Old Trafford last weekend, our travelling support is as large and as vocal as ever.
Enjoy the season!