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.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week