Bloom­ing mar­vel­lous

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY DANNY CARO

FOOTBALL TONY Bloom has hit the jack­pot again after leading Brighton & Hove Al­bion into the Premier League.

The Seag­ulls missed out on au­to­matic pro­mo­tion on goal dif­fer­ence 12 months ago, but a 2-1 win over Wi­gan Ath­letic con­firmed their place in the top-flight next sea­son.

Brighton chair­man Bloom, 45, in­sists he will adopt a cau­tious ap­proach in the trans­fer mar­ket. “We have to strengthen, that goes with­out say­ing, but we’re not look­ing to spend huge amounts,” he said.

Brighton are ex­pected to earn up to £200m in tele­vi­sion, spon­sor­ship and prize money as they will be rub­bing shoul­ders with the likes of Chelsea, Spurs, Liv­er­pool, Manch­ester City, Ar­se­nal and Manch­ester United.

Bloom said: “The amounts of money in the Premier League does equal- ise things a bit. We’ll do things on a grad­ual ba­sis as we have done. We have good play­ers al­ready and we want to strengthen from that po­si­tion.”

A Brighton fan for 40 years, Bloom made his riches via a com­bi­na­tion of set­ting up an on­line book­maker and poker web­site, to­gether with a portfolio of pri­vate eq­uity and prop­erty in­vest­ments.

He ex­plained how his re­luc­tance to sell key play­ers last sum­mer was re­warded at the Amex Sta­dium on Mon­day when sup­port­ers in­vaded the pitch at the fi­nal whis­tle. Bloom has in­vested £250m in the club since 2009, build­ing the Amex as well as the new train­ing fa­cil­ity at Lanc­ing. But tak­ing the team from the third tier into the Premier League is his great­est achieve­ment.

And pro­mo­tion was con­firmed after Hud­der­s­field Town con­ceded a late equaliser at Derby County.

“It was re­ally im­por­tant we kept to­gether those main play­ers who had gone so close last sea­son,” Bloom said. “You can’t guar­an­tee any­thing but we did as much as we could. We kept our main play­ers, we strength­ened, helped all the play­ers be­lieve this was go­ing to be our sea­son, and so it has proved.” Re­call­ing the heartache of last sea­son, Bloom said: “I went into the chang­ing room at the end of the play-off semi-fi­nal against Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and the play­ers were on the floor. I was on the floor but I looked around and said: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and we will come back from this and do it next sea­son’. They’ve done it. It’s just an amaz­ing per­for­mance.”

Asked what Brighton will bring to the Premier League, Bloom replied: “A great city, a great fan-base, an amaz­ing sta­dium, which will be sold out ev­ery game, and hope­fully we will do the city and our sup­port­ers proud.

“Words can’t de­scribe what our man­ager Chris Hughton and all the play­ers have done this sea­son. The team­work, the ca­ma­raderie … it re­ally is fan­tas­tic.”

Striker Tomer Hemed has also been a key fig­ure for Brighton this sea­son. The Is­raeli top-scored with 17 goals in 40 ap­pear­ances last year and has added an­other 11 in a suc­cess­ful cam­paign.

“This is a huge mo­ment for all of us,” said Hemed. “I came here to go to the Premier League with Brighton. It’s what ev­ery­one has been think­ing about ev­ery day and we worked hard to achieve it.

“We’re a great team and we’ve shown it week after week. Miss­ing out last year helped us men­tally and made us stronger and I think we all saw how our ex­pe­ri­ence con­trib­uted to our game this sea­son.” Hemed has a con­tract through to 2018 but hopes to im­prove the terms un­der an ex­tended new deal. He said: “We will dis­cuss things at the end of the sea­son. Of course, I want to stay here. This club is very spe­cial for me.

“As a kid, I was a very big sup­porter of Manch­ester United. I’m very ex­cited about the prospect of play­ing against th­ese kinds of teams next sea­son.”

Fel­low Is­raeli Beram Kayal de­scribed pro­mo­tion as “the great­est mo­ment of my ca­reer”.

He com­mented: “After the fi­nal whis­tle went, I didn’t know what I was do­ing. I was so happy.

“We were drunk and not from wine. Since I was 17 at Mac­cabi Haifa my dream has been to play in the Premier League.

“I know I’m go­ing to have to work very hard if I want to suc­ceed in the best league in the world.”

We have to strengthen but won’t spend huge amounts’

PHOTO: ZZZZ PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Bring on the big boys: Tony Bloom is rel­ish­ing the chal­lenge of the Premier

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