Premier League

Paul Barber is a salesman. He is also Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove Albion. Unfortunately, combining the two is difficult for Paul at the moment.

His Chairman, Tony Bloom, has written an ‘open letter’ which must mean that a) he can do joined-up writing as well as texts with smileys and b) those Seagulls fans not ever having experienced an envelope arriving through the post don’t then have to go online to work out how to open it.

Tony is upset that the club didn’t buy any strikers before the transfer window closed. In Tony’s own words (though we’re not sure if he still used a dictaphone/secretary/copy typist to get them into print) this bargain-basement failure “has left all of us feeling very disappointed”.

Paul did point out to Tony that Tim Krul has re-joined the club on loan from Newcastle United (who wouldn’t?) but Tony wasn’t fooled; he knows a goalkeeper when he sees one and they don’t usually score goals. Nor has it escaped Tony’s attention that Brighton haven’t scored one of those this season.

Paul, ever-astute and sweet-smelling as all salesmen are, realised that ‘diversion theory’ was required to take everyone’s minds off the car they had all bought into which can still reverse Ok, but is not so good as it used to be at moving through the gears when trying to go forward. Last season, Paul assured everyone that it was a Jaguar; this season, maybe he’d be able to flog it as a good second-hand Skoda with one reliable former driver?

Paul’s solution was to go for transparency which was a bit of a departure for him and not a tactic he has ever used in the past. Paul has started talking about windows. I should confirm immediately that this has nothing to do with Microsoft but, then again, if walls have ears, PCs do have webcams.

Paul has gone off piste (or is that Tony?) and decided to talk about the transfer window. Paul has stated publicly that “For me, the transfer window should close before a ball is kicked.” Presumably, this is so that no little kids can kick balls through his windows, triple-glazed though they are so that he can keep the sound of mounting south coast discontent at a distance.

Paul thinks that the window should close before the start of each football season so that managers and coaches (often with blacked-out windows, just in case) can continue to work with those players they have been working with throughout pre-season. Tony Pulis is a supporter of this point of view, in spite of it, therefore, meaning that he will have to continue to work with those players he has been working with throughout pre-season.

In a previous life – amazingly, not as a double-glazing salesman – Paul worked with the Football Association (FA) as Commercial Director and then Director of Marketing and Communications when he created the ‘FA Partners’ scheme, which basically earned lots of sponsorship money in direct correlation to the national football team’s decline on the pitch.

Some say that the same could happen at Brighton and its lovely new stadium, named after, ahem, American Express which is the new euphemism for ‘get away from the West Coast as quickly as possible, now that Kim is here.’

The big issue for a club that was once homeless is whether Paul has noticed that there exists an even bigger association than the FA, called FIFA which, like the blue-blazered Belgians in charge of Brexit negotiations, is likely to want to make an example of isolationist England and might drop the transfer windows in other European countries altogether so that their clubs can buy our players at any time but we can only buy from them at certain (shorter) times of the year.

Perhaps the upshot of all this would be clubs having to develop and actually pick footballers from their own youth academies? That sounds like fair play to me but neither Paul nor any other salesman could possibly be interested in that eventuality.