That was the week that 2004

The Albion hasn’t always enjoyed the state-of-the-art facilities.

AmexStadiumThe Albion hasn’t always enjoyed the state-of-the-art facilities, padded seats, and award-winning-pie luxury of the American Express Community Stadium.

Eleven years ago this very week saw everyone connected with the club receive yet another size 10 boot to their collective nether regions as planning inspector Charles Hoile declared the desired stadium site at Falmer as “too small”.

It’s incredible to think, especially considering the universally-lauded work of Albion in the Community, that Mr Hoile trumpeted at the time: “A provincial city’s professional football club is not a national consideration.”

Tell the people of Southampton, Lincoln, Plymouth, Bournemouth - and many others - their football clubs don’t matter and you’ll be fixed with more than a steely glare.

The Brighton and Hove Local Plan inquiry, conducted by Hoile, decreed only limited university expansion could be contemplated on the site, and then only in exceptional circumstances.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott would, eventually, have the final say on a separate hearing conducted at the same time. Two Jags had the power to override the findings of both inquiries.

Four possible alternative sites for a new stadium were mooted: Brighton Station (massively prohibitive land costs), Withdean (upset badgers), Toad’s Hole Valley (appalling transport links) and Sheepcote Valley (an hour - as proved by a handful of strolling campaigners - from the station, and not 20 minutes as suggested).

Withdean Stadium was a woefully-inadequate venue for professional football. A thousand of the original 6,000 seats were – just about – covered while the South Stand, on rainy days, offered zero protection from the elements. The away enclosure was christened the "Worthing End", due to its distance from the pitch.

By this juncture in 2004, Albion had won two, consecutive, divisional championships (tiers three and four) at the Theatre of Trees and could look forward to a play-off final victory at the Millennium Stadium that May. A fantastic achievement when the exorbitant matchday costs - £40,000 a game - represented more than half of ticket revenue, compared with a Football League average of five to 10%.

Former chairman and club life president, Dick Knight, said, on February 6 2004: “This club, in the last six years, has spent over £5 million trying to resolve the disgraceful legacy we inherited of a football club without a home, in addition to enormous ongoing match costs.”

It would be another seven-and-a-half years before an Albion first team ran out on to the hallowed turf at Falmer.