Big league means big prices for newly promoted Brighton
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Brighton and Hove Albion may have to break their transfer record again as the staggering cost of joining the Premier League elite hits home for the man who writes the cheques.
The south coast club are gearing up for their first Premier League campaign and chairman Tony Bloom admits the cost of adding quality to manager Chris Hughton's first-team squad has taken him by surprise.
Brighton signed central midfielder Davy Propper from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven on Monday for a reported club record 10 million pounds ($13 million) and Bloom expects to spend big again - if not quite to the extent of Saturday's opponents Manchester City who have splashed out 218 million pounds.
"You are trying to get value for money for every player you bring in, which in this particular window is not easy as the inflation on the transfer fees is quite sensational," Bloom told Brighton local newspaper the Argus on Tuesday.
"I might not like paying them but I have to get the best value out there, with also the knowledge that sometimes you have to individually overpay if you need a particular type of player.
"I expected it to be some kind of inflation this season, but I was not quite expecting this level and I think I am probably in the majority with that view."
With Premier League clubs awash with money thanks to their share of domestic and overseas broadcasting deals totalling around 10 billion pounds from 2016-19, selling clubs from abroad and in England's lower leagues are never slow to pump up the prices for their players.
It is a situation that Brighton, back in the top flight for the first time since 1983, are now experiencing, having for so long survived on low-budget signings and free transfers as the club's fortunes waned in the interim before reviving.
"I am surprised. I don't get surprised by too much, but how much it is, how much clubs ask, I think it's even a bit more when more when you are in the Premier League," Bloom said.
"But we get on with it. It's the same for everyone. Our competitors in other Premier League teams are finding it very difficult."
Propper's arrival took Brighton's summer spending to around 26 million pounds - relatively modest considering the total outlay for the Premier League's 20 clubs during this transfer window is set to pass the 1 billion pounds mark.
The search goes on though as Brighton try to ensure they will not be one-season wonders.
"It's pretty obvious we are looking to bring in another centre forward," Bloom said.
"It's a difficult position to fill, They are highly sought after and we look forward to the next few weeks and getting the right one in before the end of August.
"But we don't want to be spending a huge amount of money and there is no guarantee that it will be successful."
($1 = 0.7676 pounds)
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams)