Paul Barber: My message to Brighton and Hove Albion fans
As we go into the new season, we can reflect on yet another busy and productive summer.
As we go into the new season, we can reflect on yet another busy and productive summer. We've still have work to do and we know our fans - just like us - are keen to see some new faces. We are continuing to work through our target list and will do our very best to secure the players Sami HyypiÃ¤ wants, as quickly as the deals can be done, ahead of the transfer window closing on August 31.
We've welcomed four new faces, and Sami has already had a very positive effect on the first- team squad, not to mention all of us at the club. The players have embraced his methods and taken to his approach, during pre-season both here and in Spain. With those few extra additions, we are confident of another good season ahead.
The summer has also seen the opening of the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre, which will house our new training ground and academy: two weeks ago, the academy was granted category one status. This is something that David Burke and his team, supported by the chairman, had been working towards for the past few years, and I would like to congratulate them on the achievement. It means our under-21s and other younger academy teams will now compete against the very best teams in the country, week in, week out, which can only be good for their development. Thanks are also due to Martin Perry, Derek Chapman, and the team responsible for building the new facility.
We've also been busy at the Amex, with the club store being refurbished and re-opened to launch our brand new Nike strips. The new kit has proved really popular with both our players and the supporters, with record orders, and record friendly sales at the Southampton game (beating our previous best for the Spurs Amex opener in 2011). There has been much talk about the third strip, and we know fans are keen to see that unveiled for sale, and we might have some news on that later this year... watch this space!
If you are coming to the Amex tomorrow (Saturday) for the match with Sheffield Wednesday, or at any time this season, you can enjoy free wifi access within the stadium.
We are the first football stadium to be working with Sky's public wifi service The Cloud, and all visitors can benefit from the free wifi we are providing.
The ticket office is also undergoing renovation to make matchday collections easier. With a lot to do, work is due for completion at the end of the month. Once completed, it will be a vast improvement for supporters on matchdays, with external ticket windows for collections. We've also migrated to a new ticket website; again, there is a still some work to be done, but once complete the new site will be a much-improved experience for fans when purchasing online - and remember that buying online and printing at home not only saves you money, but also really helps the club.
As I said at the top, we still have a bit of work to do: be it to complete the renovations to the ticket office, or to help Sami finalise his squad, and we will be continuing to work hard this month and on into the season.
This year, the Championship - with Fulham, Norwich, Cardiff and Wolves added to the mix - looks tougher than ever. To be successful, we will need to be together as a club and fan base, in order to give ourselves that extra edge we need, competing in what is arguably the toughest league in the world.
The backing of our fans has been outstanding since I have been at the club - it's something we never take for granted - and I thank our fans for their ongoing support for this season.