Albion chairman Tony Bloom quickly picked himself off the floor last summer to begin planning a season no Brighton supporter will ever forget.
The Seagulls had double heartbreak in the 2015/16 season when they missed out on promotion to the Premier League only on goal difference and then exited the Championship play-offs in the semi-finals to Sheffield Wednesday.
Bloom admitted that ending to the season left him on the floor – however the very next day after missing out on reaching the play-off final at Wembley, he was planning how Albion could go one better. He called a board meeting which the Seagulls called the first day of the 2016/17 season – the heartache of the previous campaign needed to be forgotten about after less than 24 hours.
Shrewd signings in the return of Glenn Murray, initially on loan before turning the move permanent, Oliver Norwood, Shane Duffy and Sebastien Pocognoli followed, while keeping hold of midfielder Dale Stephens was also key to Brighton’s promotion hopes.
After falling to 13th place with eight points from six games, the Seagulls never looked back and were in the top two from October until the end of the season, missing out on the title by just a point.
In an exclusive interview, Bloom believes the season was ‘monumentally key’ for the club, who would have lost a number of their star players this summer had they failed to go up.
He said: “After the Sheffield Wednesday game, it was a huge disappointment and we were on the floor.
“But the very next day, we had a board meeting and it went very professionally. We said it was the first day of the new season and we couldn’t allow ourselves to be down at that point.
The players maybe had a few more weeks to recover but we certainly didn’t and Chris (Hughton) didn’t. That really was the first day and we came again and we very deservedly got automatic promotion.
“Keeping Dale and keeping all of our key players was very important last summer. It wasn’t always easy but I owed it to the other players, owed it to Chris and also our fans to give ourselves the best chance of getting promotion.
“This season was monumentally key because you can’t keep top quality players in the Championship for too long. Our players were brilliant, they worked so hard and got their reward.
“But there’s no doubt that at the end of this season (if Brighton hadn’t gone up), we’d have lost some of our key players and next season in the Championship would have been tough.”
Looking ahead to next season, Bloom said: “The key is to stay up. That’s the key for most Premier League clubs but we want to be the best that we can and we think that come the end of August we’ll have a squad that can do better than 17th.”
Bloom hopes to keep the squad that got Albion promoted together, while adding a few new faces and said: “All clubs have interest for their best players and that includes Manchester United. I don’t want to worry about those things, if we get a substantial bid for some of our best players we will obviously consider that.
“From where we are at the moment, we’re very much hoping our best players will be here next season. Ideally we’ll keep the nucleus of the squad with us and we’re working hard to build on that and bring a few more players in.”
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