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Paul Barber
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Job Brighton chief executive
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Club as Coach Brighton [chief executive]

2020 04 18 Retrieve

[Premier League sides discussing use of fake crowd noise in matches behind closed doors] We’ve started to give some thought internally into, ‘Could we dress the stadium?’. Could we make the stadium better than just blue empty seats in our case? Could we look at noise being brought into the stadium in some way, but is that really what the fans at home would want and is that what the broadcasters would want? I would rather see the blue seats covered. We could put up a great message to thank the NHS of course and we can use the space we have got for good purposes, without a doubt. Then you’ve got the operational challenges: how would it work in terms of the emergency services? The last thing we would want is to put any more pressure on them

We’ve all adapted so quickly and in some ways it’s a real triumph for human beings, so I dare say we would adapt to playing behind closed doors. It would be strange, and football but not quite as we know it, but if that is the only way then of course we have to get on with it

2020 04 19 Retrieve

[Brighton convert Amex into Covid-19 testing centre] It is hugely impressive, and a great triumph of both teamwork and hard work. The Amex will be the biggest testing site anywhere on the south coast, and will be used for self-testing and assisted testing. The centre was scheduled to see more than 50 NHS frontline workers on Saturday afternoon, and they will have the results of their tests within 48 hours. Within a few days, the site should reach its capacity of up to 1,000 tests a day. The members of our club and staff who will be on site day to day have all been trained and the level of attention detail is phenomenal. Huge credit must go to our safety and security team, led by Ade Morris, the Sodexo team led by Andy Perkins and Sophie Partridge and her team at Deloitte. They have been patient, diligent and supportive to the DHSC, NHS England and various other sub-contractors to make this happen

2020 04 21 Retrieve

[Brighton and Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber says there have not yet been any discussions between Premier League clubs over voiding the season] We’ve all got a degree of self-interest when it comes to our different situations. Liverpool are very keen to play out the season because they’ve got a chance of winning the Premier League title, so it’s totally understandable. Other teams have a chance of Champions League or Europa League qualification and we’re battling relegation. I was asked a question, ‘Is it possible to end the season and have Liverpool as champions, nobody relegated and the top two in the Championship coming up?’ I said, ‘Any idea in a crisis is a potentially good idea’. Whether it’s fair or right is a very big and debatable point. The problem we have is, whatever happens, the ending to the season is going to be imperfect. We’re either going to finish the season behind closed doors, which is imperfect because the fans want to be there and we don’t want an artificiality for those games, or we’re going to finish the season with a massive delay which brings other issues to contend with, or we’re not going to finish at all, in which case there has to be some kind of formula for how the season ends. Our priority remains to try and finish the season when it’s safe to do so but 500, 600 people a day are losing their lives and it doesn’t feel right to be pushing to play football again

[Asked whether declaring the league campaign null and void has ever been an option] No it hasn’t. From everyone’s point of view as I have said many times before this crisis started, we go into a season wanting to play out 38 games and we want to do that by playing 19 games at home and 19 games away from home

Our priority is to finish the season when it’s safe to do so but the second priority is we don’t want next season impacted, so there will come a point where we will have to make a call. Obviously next season you’ve got the Euros bookending it, so the ability to be flexible is constrained by a major international competition. The problem with changing things next season is, of course, the income levels of the FA Cup and the EFL Cup because they are revenues which then get distributed throughout the rest of the game. We want all the clubs to survive this crisis and we have to be mindful that every decision we take has a ripple down effect.

2020 05 02 Retrieve

[Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has said he is against the Premier League’s plan to finish the 2019-20 season at neutral venues] Clearly, we must all be prepared to accept some compromises, and we fully appreciate why playing behind closed doors is very likely to be a necessary compromise to play our remaining games while continuing to fully support the government’s efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus. But at this critical point in the season playing matches in neutral venues has, in our view, potential to have a material effect on the integrity of the competition

Five of our nine remaining matches due to be played at the Amex - all five matches are very difficult but four are against some of the biggest clubs in European football. 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

2020 05 07 Retrieve

[Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has outlined his opposition to the Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’ plan to resume the season by playing games at neutral stadiums] The Germans are managing to restart their season playing at their home grounds. Are we so concerned about our situation that we couldn’t manage our ground in the same way? If Germany can, why can’t we? We’ve got some of the best stadiums in the world, some of the best-run football clubs in the world, one of the best leagues in the world with great administrators. Why can’t we make it happen in our country and finish the season the way it started? From our point of view, we need to find out a bit more about why neutral venues were even put forward in the first place. Why are neutral venues so much safer than clubs being able to play in their own venues?

Operationally, I feel I would trust football fans to respect any advice they were given to stay away from games being played behind closed doors. Our supporters at Brighton would understand that if they didn’t comply with that request then there would be serious sanctions. I know Germany has managed the Covid-19 pandemic differently to ours and I understand they’ve got different results on infection rates, mortality rates and it’s a much bigger country. The stadiums might be designed in a different way. But the stadiums I’ve been to in Germany are in built-up areas. I was there last season in Dortmund; there’s a residential area opposite the stadium, the station is not far from the venue and that will be used in the next few weeks

2020 05 10 Retrieve

[Third Brighton player tests positive despite coronavirus safety measures] It is a concern. 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. So there are concerns and I think it’s normal for all clubs to have those concerns. We want to make sure we do everything that we can to ensure those protocols are in place and are safe and secure and mitigate the risk as far as we can

One of the things we’ve asked the Premier League for is a complete plan of all of the stages of returning to play. First, we need to get players back training in small groups, then they need to get involved in some contact training and then training for a match before the match itself. So, there are lots of stages, it’s very complex and there are people at the Premier League working very hard to produce detailed paperwork to move through those stages as safely as possible

2020 05 12 Retrieve

[The league’s potential resumption was also put into question on Sunday when Brighton confirmed that three players had tested positive for Covid-19] 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