Brighton & Hove Albion go into Saturday’s final game of the season at Barnsley with only pride left to play for after their play-off push ran out of steam over the last few weeks.
Gus Poyet‘s men have gone on a run of seven games without victory while their promotion rivals kept up the pace and pull away from the Seagulls at the business end of the campaign.
When the East Sussex club were relegated from the division back in 2006, they had just received a significant blow off the pitch when the then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott reneged on his original approval for a new stadium to be built in Falmer.
They continued to play at the Withdean Stadium, but with the venue primarily designed as an athletics track and holding less than 9,000 at full capacity, it was crucial for the development of Brighton that a new stadium was built.
Thankfully, the club received planning permission and with no legal obstacles to overcome, Brighton were ready to make strides on it.
In 2009, Poyet took his first job in football management – but his first aim was to keep the club in League One after their form had spiralled under previous boss Russell Slade.
But the Uruguayan turned their fortunes around, and the following season started to adapt a style of play that made them easy on the eye and serious promotion challengers, losing just one of their opening 15 matches to go top.
It was the sort of form they maintained throughout the season as the Seagulls gained automatic promotion and won the League One title – and they had a nice reward for their efforts.
Brighton would begin life back in the second tier of English football in their brand new American Express Community Stadium in Falmer, with a capacity of almost 22,500 to appease a large fanbase on the coast.
Now the club could really make strides forward, and they made their intentions known with summer signings Craig Mackail-Smith and Will Buckley, and they became the early-season pacesetters with five wins and a draw in their opening six matches.
While they were unable to remain at those sort of heights, they have never been in threat of relegation as they have been in previous seasons in the Championship.
Brighton now have the infrastructure to develop and they have the support to do it, with an average attendance of over 20,000 in their first year at the AMEX and a squad that will have the experience of the recent disappointments to learn from in 12 months.
Considering where they were this time six years ago, the progress of Brighton on and off the pitch is one of the Football League’s biggest success stories in recent times.
So what do you think? How far can Brighton go in the short and long-term? Leave a comment and let us know your views.