top of page



Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Chris Hughton, Tony Bloom
Chris Hughton, Me, Tony Bloom


Stay with me on this one for a minute. I know football analogies do not always resonate with everyone and I also know the crazy world of elite sport cannot always be a mirror on business but I think I have some good stuff here to at least provoke some thought.

I am writing this today as Graham Potter (the Brighton & Hove Albion Manager for the past 3 years) is on the verge of moving to Chelsea. In fact by the time I have finished writing this he will probably be all over Sky Sports proclaiming his love for Chelsea and that he has 'always been a fan' and cant wait for the challenge.

It hurts, from a fans point of view, and yes I have blue and white tinted specs on here but can you really begrudge the man a shot at leading one of the biggest teams in the world? When he set out on his career path he would have probably envisaged success as being at one of the top 6 clubs in the Premier League. No one can deny what he has achieved at Brighton, leading the team to playing an enjoyable brand of football, developing players to go on to better things and at the time of writing being above Chelsea and 4th place in the Premier League. So fully deserves his shot at the big time.

If you know anything about Brighton's story you will know that the club has not always been well run. In fact until Tony Bloom (the owner and chairman) took over in 2009 the future was pretty bleak. The leadership of the club was second rate, no real vision and was living hand to mouth, the story is long and I have no time to tell it here but watch out for the upcoming film 'Stand or Fall' if you are interested.

Have a plan and stick to it

The point to my rambling here is that the leader changed that dynamic, putting in a more corporate structure with clear goals and his vision broken down into key stages all with their own 'sub plans'.

  1. Secure planning permission and build the Amex Stadium

  2. Get promoted from League 1 to the Championship

  3. Build a CAT A training facility to rival the best in Europe

  4. Get promoted to Premier League

  5. Survive in Premier League

  6. Become established Premier league side

  7. Be a regular top 10 finisher

  8. Win something?

Around this Tony Bloom brought in the right people to complete each stage, trusted quality leaders that were good at their jobs. His right hand man and 10 years as CEO Paul Barber to support and lead all the areas of the club alongside him. As a team Tony and Paul have been solid as a rock and created a real sense of momentum and achievement throughout the whole club, not just the mens first team.

Managers have come and gone in this time, mostly they have been right at the time and achieved but none have been loyal (maybe with the exception of Hughton) and seen out the contracts they agreed with the club. From Tony Blooms point of view as an employer this must be very disappointing when you back them, put faith in them and give them their chance.

Gus Poyet
Me and Gus Poyet at Warwick Services in 2011

All that glitters may not be gold!

  1. Gus Poyet - Wanted to go to bigger club, was tapped up by Sunderland, it didn't turn out well for him - achieved nothing of real note since.

  2. Oscar Garcia - Quit after one season with no real tangible reason, went back to his old team - perhaps he was homesick - achieved nothing of real note since

  3. Sammi Hyypia - Poor appointment, lack of top management experience, he knew it and gracefully quit - has achieved nothing of real note since.

  4. Chris Hughton - Very experienced and top manager achieved promotion to premier league and kept Brighton there. Was sacked after a poor season with no progression. This was highly controversial at the time and upset a lot of fans. - Has achieved nothing of real note since.

  5. Graham Potter - Unproven but was given a chance, worked out really well as he is highly educated and people person (Masters in Emotional Intelligence) - signs 6 year contract but leaves for Chelsea after 3. - Has achieved........?

Learn from your mistakes

Well, with Potter heading off to a club that has a reputation for sacking managers every couple of years I wonder, why no loyalty? Why not stay with the club that have supported, nurtured and jointly created your success. Why not take a pay rise and sit tight and finish what you started?

In football people will say it's all about the money, I am sure Potter will be handsomely rewarded when they inevitably sack him in 18 months time and will be paid a higher salary than he is currently getting, but in his case surely it's more than that? If he was offered the job and didn't take it he would forever be wondering 'what if'?

I have found myself in that situation in the past and made mistakes chasing money and better positions at the expense of stability and a great team around me, as I am sure a lot of people that read this can also resonate with. Do I regret it now? No.

Why? Because if I hadn't take the risk I would have never known, and I learnt a lot from the bad experiences, probably more than the good ones!

Change is inevitable - deal with it

Lots of fans are questioning Potters 'Loyalty', integrity etc and are currently going through the 5 stages of grief/change trying to find answers to the disappointment and probably not putting themselves in his shoes. Instead only thinking of the view from their own mountain. I don't think ill of that, it's a natural process, and Brighton have some very intelligent fans.

So how much does an employer really mean to the employee? This is probably a bigger question than I can cover here right now but it's an interesting one. We only live once, life is short, live a life you will remember, all phrases we get used to hearing a lot these days. More and more people are taking risks.

In our industry in particular, drainage engineers will move around a lot, and even move for a small amount of money. How often have you lost someone only to find them coming back a few months later wanting their old job back where the move has not quite worked out as they had envisaged?

Loyalty is an enigma

So how do you get more loyalty? This is the big question for me. If its not just money (which it isn't always), how do we create an environment where employees, managers and leaders can feel comfortable in staying put and achieving their goals with your company in long term?

To do this we have to ask our people what it is that they want and engage with them all the time. Make them feel part of the journey, give them the best support and training and help them to achieve their own goals as well as the business ones.

Will they all stay? Well, probably not, the good ones will always be hunted down and poached and the high achievers will always want more - and who are you to hold them back?

The best leaders let them go, as painful as it is to lose good people, it is the right thing to do. Tony Bloom will feel hurt that Potter is leaving but will also wish him well on his journey, which is absolutely the right thing to do and shows all the qualities that he hired Potter for in the first place - emotional intelligence.

Of course you should always have a Plan B. Succession planning is key to any business, do you think the Brighton leadership already know who their next manager is going to be - I would think its highly likely!

The future is bright!

27 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page