Paul Barber from Brighton: Football clubs are not prisons

Technical director, head coach, his coaching staff, deputy head of recruitment, player of the season, star midfielder, former top scorer.

It’s hard to imagine that many clubs have suffered so many important departures from top-flight people who have done their jobs to a high standard.

Albion likes to give its employees the opportunity to speak to potential new employers on and off the pitch.

Paul Barber says that’s not going to change for him and Chairman Tony Bloom – even as the list of departures grows more significant.

Albion’s chief executive and vice-chairman, who himself signed a new deal this summer, said: “No. Football clubs are not prisons.

“We are not in a position to hold employees against their will.

“We try to protect ourselves as much as possible with contracts.

“We hope that contracts are always respected, but where people have an excellent opportunity and they feel it’s better for them, their careers, their families, then we’re open-minded. “Obviously we don’t want to lose our best people and we make it as difficult as possible for people to leave and take over our employees, but in certain situations we have to be realistic that it’s going to happen.

“And in that scenario we either protect ourselves with contracts that allow us to send people on garden holidays like we did with Dan (Ashworth) to protect our club or to protect ourselves from being key people at key times losing, or protecting ourselves financially.

“Sometimes a combination of both is necessary. “But there will always be a point where someone wants to move on. And we have to be realistic about that and manage that, and that’s why succession planning is important.

“Therefore, a good knowledge of the market and who we would move for should certain contingencies materialize is important. “But telling someone they can’t talk to another potential employer, in my opinion and Tony’s opinion, just leads to behavior where people go behind your back, have secret meetings and it comes out and it’s a bigger story .

“It’s more disruptive, it’s more potentially harmful, it’s more unsettling to employees.”

Barber points out that other clubs have occasionally lost many key people in a short space of time.

Which is undoubtedly true.

But Albion’s departures affect a range of roles – not just one manager or group of star players.

And they sting because they come at a time when it felt like the club had started something very special, only to be snatched away.

Barber said: “It happens to every other football club too, don’t get me wrong.

“We’re not unique in losing good people and good players at different times.

“It’s been a very challenging couple of months because of the losses we’ve had, but we’ve put plans and succession plans in place to get through this and be resilient.

“That is now being tested and we just have to go through the process and replace Graham.

We very quickly replaced Dan with David (Weir) who did an excellent job as Technical Director.

“We replaced the players we lost, again with a plan to ensure we had those players in place either before the players we lost left or very shortly after.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of the coaching staff.

“It’s been a while since Brighton have lost top managers to a club that is regarded as one of the biggest in Europe.

“I take that as a huge compliment and Graham and his staff have done exceptionally well for us for three years and deserve it so we wish them well.”

Potter was asked how recent events have affected various people – including Billy Gilmour, the midfielder who signed from Chelsea just before Potter made the opposite move.

He said: “It’s not ideal, far from ideal.

“But my experience from working with professional footballers over the last 25 years is that they are resilient and pragmatic.

“They get a lot of support from experienced players in the squad.

“My limited experience talking to Billy is that he’s a very quiet and very mature young man.

“He’s been involved with football all his life and I’m sure he’ll take that in stride.

“He will be supported by the other players and when needed by Andrew Crofts and Shannon Ruth.

“The fortunate position we’re in is that we don’t face Premier League games tomorrow, this week or next week. We have time.

“Billy is still finding his feet at the training ground, let alone with a new coach.

“The timing around the closing of the transfer window would always leave a player or two in Billy’s situation if that happened.

“The players are resilient and professional and we have a good group and the experienced players will fill any gap that may be there and we will go from there.” Paul Barber from Brighton: Football clubs are not prisons

Fry Electronics Team

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