Bloom: ‘We must keep our eye on the Brexit ball'’

The football establishment will have to take a long, hard look at how Brexit will affect the professional game, if and when it kicks in.


That is the view of Brighton & Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom, who says what problems Brexit will cause to professional clubs are as yet unclear, but there will obviously be some that need ironing out.

Speaking at an event organised by Macccabi GB at the Danubius Hotel, Regents Park, to celebrate the launch of the 2021 Maccabiah Games in Israel, Bloom said: “We are not yet sure what effect Brexit will have and how rules might change regarding EU players and so on.

“But I don’t think there will too many problems in the short term, as, of course, players may have contracts at their current clubs that extend for some years. 
“How Brexit will affect the rights of players from the EU wanting to join new clubs here we will have to wait and see.”

Sports betting entrepreneur Bloom, 49, a lifelong Brighton supporter who has been the club chairman for ten years and masterminded the move to their American Express Community Stadium, gave the Maccabi GB  audience of 100-plus a fascinating insight into the life of a Premier League chairman in conversation with BBC sports broadcaster Ron Nothman, particularly the challenges of competing against clubs with vastly higher financial power.

Bloom said: “I always believed that one day Brighton would get into the Premier League. I love this club and that is why I invested so much in it. But, of course, it is never an equal playing field when some clubs can pay huge salaries to their players.

“But at the end of the day on the field it is 11 against 11 and it is always a great feeling of achievement when you beat one of those teams. The aim at Brighton is always to try to finish in the top ten, so even if it’s 11, 12 or 13 at least we would never be in danger of going down.”

Bloom has mixed feelings on VAR, which is being used in the Premier League for the first time this season. VAR gave his team a penalty that the referee had not originally awarded in the recent 3-2 win over Everton. Bloom said: “Victories in the Premier League are always tough, so it was all very emotional. 

“We have had VAR decisions go against us and to be honest the foul looked a bit innocuous at first, but on balance I believe it was a penalty.”

He believes improvements can still be made to the way the technology is used.“The decision seemed to take such a long time and the crowd don’t know what is happening,” he said. “I believe we should all hear what the referee is saying on the pitch, as happens in rugby union and the referees should go and look at the pitch-side screens more often.

“There needs to be better communication, because it is not good for the sport if the fans are against it. I am sure there will eventually be changes to the system.” 

Getting into the Premier League was one of Bloom’s highest moments. Sacking the man who helped get Brighton there, boss Chris Hughton, he admits was one of his lowest.
“It was one of the most horrible days of my life,” said Bloom. 

“Chris had done more for us than anyone could have wanted, but I have no doubt I made the right decision. It was the right time for us to part company. I had been following the career of Graham Potter and he was the obvious stand-out candidate to replace Chris.”

Bloom was introduced by Maccabi GB chairman David Pinnick, who paid tribute to his commitment to supporting the community.

Pinnick said: “Tony is a dedicated and hugely generous philanthropist. He supports his local community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in a quiet and understated way, always with the aim of improving the lives of those in his communities. We are fortunate to have him as a member of our community.”

New Maccabi GB board member Joel Nathan, who will be general team manager for the Maccabiah 2021, said: “Tony has been a great supporter of our organisation.
“We have built up a terrific relationship and have been fortunate enough to have sent many squads across all ages down to Brighton’s superb training facility as we have prepared for international games and hope that relationship continues for years to come.”

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