Brighton & Hove Albion returned to England’s top flight for the first time in 34 years after finishing last season’s Championship in second place. This will mark the club’s first ever appearance in the Premier League, something that many fans thought would never happen as the Seagulls almost slipped out of the football league in 1997 and 1998. After having only spent four years in the pinnacle division in their history, Brighton fans will be hoping their side can now cement a place.
The glory years for Brighton supporters were between 1979 and 1983. Prior to and since then, the club has spent many years wallowing in the lower echelons of the English game. But the older generation will look back on that short stint, during which they rubbed shoulders with the elite, with fond memories.
The 1979-80 season marked the 100th year of competitive football in England. Brighton occupied the relegation zone for much of the season, but an upturn in form around the turn of the year saw them finish in 16th place with 11 wins. Liverpool won the league.
The next season, the Seagulls once again found themselves dangerously floating around the drop zone for the first part of the season, but managed to claw their way out on goal difference at the expense of Norwich City by the turn of the year. By the end of the campaign, Aston Villa had sealed their first league title in 71 years, and Ipswich Town were runners-up. Brighton finished the season two points worse off than the year before in 19th, and narrowly avoided relegation.
The 1982-83 season will be etched in the memory of the older generation of Brighton supporters as one of hope and despair. The Seagulls embarked on an impressive and unexpected onslaught on the FA Cup. They were ultimately defeated 4-0 by Manchester United in the final but, prior to that, had forced the Red Devils into a replay thanks to a 2-2 draw. Unfortunately for Jimmy Melia’s side, their exploits in the cup adversely affected their league position.
They ended the season in 22nd place on 40 points with a -30 goal difference. This was the club’s last appearance in the top flight, until now. The bookies are expecting Brighton to fail in their first ever Premier League adventure. They are currently 6/5 in the pre-season football betting to return to the Championship after one season.
Below Chris Hughton’s side in the favourites for relegation are last season’s playoff final winners Huddersfield Town. The Terriers are also about to embark on their first ever Premier League journey. David Wagner’s side have spent slightly longer than Brighton outside of the top flight, with their last appearance coming in the 1971-72 season. The Terriers have, however, had more success than their southern counterparts. They won the league for three successive seasons between 1923 and 1926, but have never again experienced those levels of success.
It could be argued that the newly promoted sides have a tougher time than ever of consolidating their top-flight status. The league is the most demanding it’s ever been, and Hughton and Wagner have a long road ahead.