Paul Newman: Green experiment begins to bloom at Brighton's new home

The Football League Column

Sometimes there is no justice.

On Saturday Brighton, playing their first competitive match in their new £100m home, fielded a team that included Craig Mackail-Smith, a £2.5m recruit from Peterborough who could eventually cost them £3.25m. Doncaster Rovers, who played much the better football for the first hour, also included their major summer signing, Tommy Spurr, a £200,000 purchase from Sheffield Wednesday.

No prizes for guessing which team left the Amex Community Stadium with their two leading scorers from last season on crutches, bringing to nine the number of first-team players on their injury list. Sean O'Driscoll, Doncaster's manager, was less concerned by his team's 2-1 defeat than by the ankle and knee injuries respectively which saw Billy Sharp and James Hayter leave the field on stretchers.

Money alone cannot bring you success – witness O'Driscoll's magnificent feat in taking Doncaster into the Championship three years ago and keeping them there since – but it sure helps. With his team trailing 1-0, Gus Poyet, the Brighton manager, summoned Will Buckley, another of his recent signings, from the bench. The £1m midfielder from Watford scored twice to end a perfect first day back in the Championship.

Only the most curmudgeonly – as well as some Crystal Palace supporters – would begrudge Brighton fans their current happiness. After leaving the Goldstone Ground in 1997, the Seagulls spent two years commuting 75 miles to ground-share with Gillingham before returning to Brighton to rent the Withdean Stadium, an athletics arena with as much atmosphere as the moon.

The Amex Stadium is a total contrast to what had been home for the last 12 years. Many modern grounds are so characterless they can make your local B&Q store feel like Harrods in comparison, but Brighton's new home, four miles from the city centre, is a fine addition to the football circuit. The 22,500-capacity stadium – they hope to install another 8,000 seats by the start of next season – feels bright and airy thanks to its blue, translucent, curved roofs, but still generates a resounding atmosphere. When Buckley scored the winning goal in the eighth minute of injury time, Poyet said he could never recall Brighton fans making as much noise.

Fittingly for a city with the country's only Green MP, Brighton encourage fans to arrive at the ground in environmentally friendly style. There is secure bicycle parking for those wishing to use new cycle paths from Brighton and Lewes, as well as subsidised bus and rail travel. Falmer train station is just yards from the stadium. No public car parking is available, although supporters can takes buses to the ground from three park-and-ride sites.

The new stadium was made possible by the generosity of the Brighton chairman, Tony Bloom, whose fortune derives from the sale of a betting website he set up as well as his property and finance interests, not to mention his winnings as a poker player. In his last major tournament, the Aussie Millions in Melbourne in January, Bloom won A$975,000 (about £620,000) as runner-up.

It is hard to believe that Bloom the gambler (in poker he is nicknamed The Lizard as he never shows any sign of pressure) would have put so many chips on the table in backing his team, but Brighton are in his blood. His grandfather was a vice-chairman of the club and his uncle has been involved for more than 20 years. Saturday's mascots were Jessie Bloom (aged nine), Katie Bloom (seven) and Sammy Bloom (five).

As for Doncaster, their manager might find some consolation in the weekend's events. Sharp's injury could just divert the interest of the many clubs willing to pay big money for O'Driscoll's most valuable asset.

Best Of The Weekend

Colchester United's 4-2 win at Preston North End Phil Brown's Preston, among the favourites for promotion from League One, were outplayed by a Colchester team bristling with confidence from good pre-season form.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss