Tony Bloom on Brighton's legacy
Tony Bloom has set his sights on creating a legacy for generations to come after leading Brighton & Hove Albion into their brand new home.
The 41-year-old, a gambler, property developer and poker player, has ploughed a hefty fortune into the south-coast club to aid their move to the state-of-the-art £93m Amex Stadium, pictured here.
Brighton had been without a permanent home since leaving the Goldstone Ground in 1997 and spent most of their time playing at the vastly unattractive Withdean athletics stadium.
Since Bloom took over as chairman in 2009, Brighton have excelled on the field under the guidance of manager Gus Poyet who led the club to the League One title last season.
Now, ahead of tomorrow's Championship opener against Doncaster Rovers, chairman Bloom is finally beginning to realise the scale of his achievements.
"It has gone as well as I could have ever imagined," said Bloom. "We're delighted to be in the Amex Stadium, in the Championship and with a great manager leading us.
"The family history with Brighton goes back a long way and my uncle Ray has been a director of the club for the best part of 25 years.
"When Dick Knight was chairman, I invested some money in the football club and I was quite close to the whole situation.
"When it came to the crunch time and we needed funds to put into the new stadium, there was always a certain expectation that I was going to invest some money because there was a shortfall.
"But the cost of the stadium was more than we had ever envisaged down to inflation and we underestimated how much it would cost to build something like the Amex.
"It also came at the same time as the financial credit crisis and bank's weren't lending money to anyone and certainly weren't going to lend to football clubs.
"I stepped forward and put in more money than I had envisaged but now the Amex is a reality and I've got a great football, very good revenues and there's a legacy for many generations to come."
Bloom, who played Maccabi League football for Hillgar and attends Holland Road synagogue in Brighton, grew up just down the road from the club's famous hold home, the Goldstone Ground.
And although he freely admits to being a regular on a Shabbat morning, Bloom says he is often pulled aside for a quick word on the Albion by members of the congregation.
He said: "There's a really nice community here in Brighton and like Jews all over the country, they're really into their football.
"Whenever I go to shul there are always a few people who want to chat about Albion and what's going on.
"We've got quite a few Jewish fans at the club and hopefully that will continue in the future."
Bloom also refused to rule out the possibility of allowing the Maccabi League to hold cup finals at the Falmer-based arena.
"It's certainly a possibility," he added. "It's a beautiful stadium."