Paul Barber

Brighton and Hove Albion
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Brighton player tests positive for coronavirus

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Brighton and Hove Albion chief Paul Barber has confirmed that the club has had a new positive COVID-19 test amongst its players.

The Seagulls had positive tests amongst their staff and players last month.

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Barber said the club has been following all protocols and was clearly flummoxed by the test.

From Sky Sports:

“It is a concern,” he said. “Unfortunately we’ve had a third player test positive yesterday (Saturday, May 9), so despite all of the measures that we’ve been taking over the past few weeks, where the players haven’t been involved in any significant training at all, we’ve still suffered another player testing positive for the virus.”

Obviously we cannot speak to this particular incident, but it’s easy to predict we’ll see more and more positive tests for a long time still. The virus is especially contagious and we’ve also seen many lapses in judgment amongst the population which of course includes Premier League players (See: Man City’s Kyle Walker and Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic).

Brighton has been in the headlines often during the coronavirus pause, as manager Graham Potter was among the first PL figures to take a pay cut and the club has vowed to give free tickets to medical workers.

Barber has been an outspoken critic of talks to resume games at neutral venues, while owner Tony Bloom has spoken out on the possibility of relegation happening off an unresumed season.

Brighton speaks out against neutral venues for Premier League return

Premier League neutral venues
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Brighton and Hove Albion chief Paul Barber says playing the remaining Premier League fixtures at neutral venues would be unfair to the competition.

Barber understands the needs to finish the schedule, and is okay with playing behind closed doors, but thinks losing out on home-field advantage would be a bridge too far.

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Brighton plays a brutal schedule the rest of the way, and will be joined by relegation-threatened clubs in making this rallying cry; Our friends Sky Sports say that West Ham also has a strong preference to avoid neutral venues.

Here is the crux of Barber’s argument, via BrightonandHoveAlbion.com:

“The disadvantages of us not playing the league’s top teams in our home stadium and in familiar surroundings, even with 27,000 Albion fans very unlikely to be present at the Amex, are very obvious.

“Clearly, we must accept there may also be some benefit from playing our remaining four away matches at neutral venues but the fixture list simply isn’t equally balanced at this stage of the season, and we didn’t play our first 29 matches of the season in this way. So, in our opinion one thing doesn’t cancel out the other.”

Here’s the thing, though: Some clubs are going to be disadvantaged regardless of how this shakes out. Say no one is relegated and two to three teams are promoted; At some point, at least one lower division will be playing less matches next season or seeing a drastic change to their current competition.

Every solution is going to have losers, and that’s terrible when jobs are on the line.

Brighton, it should be noted, has behaved admirably during the pandemic and this isn’t a “shoot the messenger” situation. The Seagulls spoke out on behalf of clubs being relegated off a shortened season, and their club is safe in that scenario.

Other clubs have looked much worse making the same point much earlier, arguing for the voiding of a season because they’ve performed poorly (Scotland has been a mess, with Dundee and Rangers sloppily making appeals to the greater good while amplifying their own interests more than anything else).

What’s the best answer to the predicament placed on our sport by this horrendous virus?

Brighton’s Potter joins Howe in taking voluntary pay cut

Brighton and Hove Albion
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Brighton and Hove Albion boss Graham Potter has joined club chief executive Paul Barber and technical director Dan Ashworth in taking a voluntary pay cut for the next three months.

The trio said the decision was made to support chairman Tony Bloom’s “significant efforts to protect all jobs at our club and charity.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Clubs all over the world have been furloughing workers if not laying them off altogether as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on club finances.

On Thursday, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. The clubs were also together in a prior initiative to reward medical workers.

Here’s Potter, via  BrightonandHoveAlbion.com:

“I spoke with Tony Bloom a couple of weeks ago, and I just felt like a normal thing to offer him because he has been good to me. I know the pressure he is under as a chairman and the challenges he faces. It is a small thing we can do but I think it was an important offer.

“Tony being Tony said, ‘Thank you very much but, at the moment we are working through things.’ As things have moved forward, I think we have come to the right decision to do what we have done.”

Man City’s Pep Guardiola donated $1 million to fight coronavirus in Catalonia. Whether donations or pay cuts, surely more will come.

Brighton & Hove Albion formally apologize to Crystal Palace over ‘excrement’ incident

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You know, Major League Soccer can’t say it’s truly made it until it’s had a big feces incident between rivals. It that respect, the English Championship is light years ahead of MLS, with somebody having smeared excrement on the walls of the Crystal Palace locker room ahead of Monday’s second leg of their playoff semifinal at Brighton & Hove Albion.

Really.

Crystal Palace went on to defeat Brighton, 2-0, advancing to the Championship’s playoff final by the same score, but before the two rivals walked onto the pitch at the Amex stadium, Palace manager Ian Holloway informed his counterpart, Gus Poyet, of the state of his dressing room. Poyet was reportedly so upset about the situation after that game that he sent an email to staff demanding the culprit be found and fired, an email that has since been cited as a factor Poyet (and his staff’s) suspension.

Really.

Today, news of the locker room vandalism finally broke, with club chief executive Paul Barber taking to email to explain the incident to season ticket holders:

“It’s clearly been a challenging week for our club: defeat at home to our biggest rivals in a play-off semi-final; the suspension from work and pending investigation of three members of our staff; and the revelation of an unsavoury incident that took place in our visitors’ dressing room last Monday.

“I can assure you that we will address each of these challenges as you would expect and want us to: namely, professionally and with as much dignity as possible. We apologised to Crystal Palace as soon as the vandalism in their dressing room was discovered, and again more formally a few days after the match. As a result of what happened, please rest assured we have reviewed our internal procedures to guard against this ever happening again.”

So at some point, somebody got into the visitor’s locker room and smeared waste on the walls. But at no point did anybody notice (or smell) the damage until Crystal Palace arrived?

That, to me, it more incredible than any other aspect of this story. Somebody tries to do something stupid? Yeah, whatever. Welcome to sports. He initially gets away with it? Sure. Streakers still happen. I don’t know why, but they do.

But nobody notices until Crystal Palace arrives? Nobody did a walk-through? There wasn’t a cleaning crew that checked the trash cans or the showers?

Boy, the things we miss out on in Major League Soccer.