At the end of the 1996/97 season, Brighton wasn’t the only Football League club to lose their home. Bolton left Burnden Road, Derby County vacated the Baseball Ground, and Oxford, Stoke and Sunderland saw the last of their respective stadiums.
The big difference was that all those other clubs had a spanking new stadium to move into. The Albion had nowhere.
Here’s Total Football (July 1997)’s fact file on Brighton’s state of flux:
Old ground: Goldstone Ground
Final capacity: 11,500
Record gate: 36,747
Last game: Doncaster, April 26, 1997
New stadium: TBA
New capacity: TBA
Location: Who knows?
Background to move: The sale of the Goldstone to pay off debts of £6m sparked two years of protests. A month or so of groundsharing can’t be ruled out while a temporary location, either at the nearby Corals greyhound stadium, or perhaps Crawley Town’s new gaff, 20 miles north but still in Sussex, is organised. The consortium who wrested power from the old board include a representative of McAlpine’s, so when plans for The Seagulls’ new nest are revealed, expect something worth the wait.
We certainly got a great stadium in the end, but what a wait it turned out to be…