Sussex

Brighton & Hove Albion manager and chairman receive city freedom

Chris Hughton at Brighton's victory parade Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Manager Chris Hughton has taken Brighton from the brink of relegation to the Premier League

Two of the bosses behind Brighton & Hove Albion's rise to the Premier League have been granted the city's top honour at a council ceremony.

Manager Chris Hughton and chairman Tony Bloom were awarded the freedom of the city in recognition of their success at the club.

Albion will join the English game's elite next season after missing out on promotion in last season's play-offs.

The honour was previously conferred on Bloom's predecessor, Dick Knight.

Freedom of the city is an honorary title and, contrary to widespread perception, does not confer special rights on recipients.

But it is still a relatively rare honour and reinforces the warm relationship between the club and the city, which hosted a civic reception and seafront parade on Sunday, attended by an estimated 60,000 people.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Brighton players were cheered by an estimated 60,000 people on their seafront promotion parade

Hughton, who was appointed manager in December 2014, with the club just above the relegation zone in England's second tier, kept them up in his first season before guiding them to third place last year, when they missed promotion by two goals and then lost out on a second chance of promotion via the play-offs.

This season they finished second, earning automatic promotion, which is estimated to be worth more than £160m to the club - with potentially lucrative spin-offs for the entire city.

Economic benefits

He said it had been "a hugely emotional day".

"This is very humbling for me as someone who has only been in the city for two and a half years," he said.

Bloom has ploughed millions of pounds into the club since succeeding Knight in 2009, building a new stadium on the outskirts of the city and a top-class training complex in neighbouring Lancing.

Members of the council, which expects "huge benefits" to the city's economy from the increased profile and number of visitors, paid tribute to the pair at a special ceremony at Brighton town hall.

A club spokesman said: "It's a wonderful honour for Tony Bloom and Chris Hughton, and one both men thoroughly deserve. The joy they've bought to so many people in the city of Brighton was evident last Sunday and as a club we are extremely proud of our chairman and manager."

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