Interviews

Marc Sugarman on his time with Albion

Lifelong Albion fan Marc will be leaving the board of directors at the end of June.

By Luke Nicoli • 29 May 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Marc Sugarman joined the Albion board in 2009.

We caught with director Marc Sugarman, who is leaving us at the end of the season.

Marc, you’re a lifelong Albion fan, so what are your earliest memories supporting the club?

I used to go to games with my father and older brother, and my first game at the Goldstone was against Mansfield Town [in April 1977]. I remember Graham Moseley had his little bag which he placed inside the goal, and I said to my dad, “How come he’s brought his sandwiches out with him?!” I would regularly go to games until I moved away for university, but once I started working in London, I attended games regularly at Withdean.

How did you find yourself on the board in 2009?

I’d worked as a media analyst on the Stock Market and became friends with a lot of people within the sports industry, so when Tony Bloom – a lifetime friend – started to get involved in the club, he asked if I would come on board. He wanted me to focus particularly on sports rights and the value of sports marketing, but I got so much more out of being involved than I was ever able to put in, given our executive team became so capable so quickly.

Once we got to the Amex, did you get the feeling it was only going one way?

By James Boardman
Marc is leaving the board of directors at the end of June.

You have a view that long term we’re doing things the right way and with patience we’ll probably get there, but nothing was taken for granted. We were in the Championship play-offs three times, with the near-miss of automatic promotion at Middlesbrough particularly hard to take, but these are the fine margins you encounter at this level of competition. However, we had a business model – driven by Tony – which created a framework for our executive team to thrive, and for our infrastructure to grow, and our patience paid off in the end.

What has being a board member meant to you?

Being a board member or trustee of any organisation is about making sure governance and values are in place, and that you behave in an ethical and honest way. At a football club it’s also important that the fans have a voice and are looked after properly. There are always difficult issues to deal with but around our board’s table is a ton of experience in different areas of industry who have encountered many different challenges. Being able to communicate our views and coming to a joint decision is the way we’ve always operated, and if our executive team also know the board have their back, it makes a huge difference. We’ve created a very positive climate in that respect.

We’ve become an admired club throughout the industry. Does that make you proud?

We decided a few years ago that we wanted to shake off the perception of being a small club. We publicly talked about being a top-ten club for men and top-four club for women, and having the right recruitment process and academy infrastructure in place are critical in allowing us to develop in that way. We have shaken off the ‘imposter’ syndrome and now, sitting up alongside some very big and established clubs, we know we deserve to be there. We have built something that can sustain the test of time.

What’s been the highlight of your time as a director?

By Bennett Dean
Marc says one of his favourite moments while on the Albion board was our promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

I remember after we lost that play-off game against Sheffield Wednesday, which followed the Middlesbrough result, we decided to take out an advert in The Argus, thanking the team for an incredible season because we’d looked at the performance over the season and felt we didn’t get what we deserved. It provided us with the desire to go that one step further, so to clinch promotion at the Amex against Wigan Athletic the following year was a joyous day and incredibly exciting after getting so close so many times.