With all the problems that Brighton and Hove Albion have had in securing a decent home for their team and fans in recent years, you’d think that the authorities in Brighton would have learned that they need to give more support to their local sports teams.
But it seems that that is not the case. Sussex County Cricket Club, a championship-winning team that is very active in the community, is having problems seeking permission to redevelop its Hove ground. Only the circumstances this time are slightly different. In the case of the football team, an asset-stripping owner and management sold off the family silver and nearly consigned the club to oblivion, leaving them desperate to obtain consent for a new out-of-town venue. In the case of the cricket club, the management are clearly keen to stay at their historic home in the centre of Hove, convenient for locals and public transport and an important part of the community. And yet the council seems reluctant to support them in this.
Ultimately, I think it quite possible that the cricket club will leave Hove. There has been talk of them moving to Crawley, which would certainly put them closer to visiting fans from Surrey, north Kent and Middlesex, whilst still being handy for trains from Brighton and Hove. Sale of the site in Hove would raise an enormous sum (and lead to not just redevelopment of part of the ground, but the entire ground). A new stadium in Crawley would be good for the club, but there would be one big loser – the city of Brighton and Hove.
It is time for the authorities to realise this and support their local sport teams.