Football: Brighton stay put for another year

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Brighton have been told that they can remain at the Goldstone Ground for an extra year, following talks between the local council and the development firm buying the stadium. The Seagulls, who are selling their home of 93 years to help to pay off pounds 6m-worth of debts, were due to move out in June next year.

The stay of execution until June 1997 follows negotiations between Hove Council and Chartwell Development Properties Limited, who plan to build a store after levelling the Goldstone site.

Hove's Council leader, Ivor Caplin, announced the reprieve yesterday but he was nevertheless fiercely critical of the club's decision to move from the Goldstone at all. "When the present owners get a return of their funds from the sale of the ground they could give the club back, via the local council, to local people to run - people who will care about our community and not sell it for any reason," he said.

Brighton's plan was to share Portsmouth's Fratton Park ground next season but that idea has received a cool reception from the Football League, which wants to be satisfied the Seagulls have a new stadium in the pipeline to return to.

Caplin shares that view and said: "If the club ends up playing at Portsmouth, it will be better tolerated as long as supporters know there is going to be a new ground to move back to."

Caplin added that the results of a specially commissioned study that was set up to identify the best site for a new ground would be known before Christmas.

The news that Brighton can stay at the Goldstone for an extra year was greeted enthusiastically by the club's chief executive, David Bellotti, last night. "When we met Hove Council and representatives from Chartwell three weeks ago, we were hopeful of getting another year at the Goldstone and it's wonderful news. Now all our efforts will go into identifying the land for our new stadium."

Bellotti promised that Brighton would be lodging a planning application as soon as possible.

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