American Express? That will do nicely


For those of you who remember TV advertising campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, this was the catchphrase used by the credit card company in an always reassuring fashion, suggesting that no matter what the situation of potential indebtedness to the user, American Express cards would always be welcome.

In fact, they would be positively grabbed by the seller, sent through one of those ‘portable’ metal racks (inspired by Tudor torture chambers, in that fingers needed to be counted before and after use) and handed back to the user for signing and a receipt transcribed on the kind of tracing paper we used to use for copying the outlines of predatory animals in our school books.

Clinical psychologist Pamela Stephenson took this opportunity to pleasure her users a stage further in the satirical TV show ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ by offering an extra pair of midfield players of her own, designed to further squash any opposition.

I always found these ads reassuringly smug and perfectly mirroring Thatcher’s Britain at the time which rewarded those with ‘loadsamoney’ at the expense of those who never had much in the first place and therefore wouldn’t miss it…

American Express has its Head Office in Brighton and, aware that both TV advertising from rivals and the new digital media channels were making their own black cards look increasingly funereal – if not dead – decided to plough their previous customers’ love of exclusivity and privilege into something altogether more grounded: Falmer Stadium, home of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.

As official club sponsor of stadium, shirts and, well, anything plastic really, the stadium is known by most outside of East Sussex as Amex Stadium – a name which will probably stick, long after the money runs out or into a different channel altogether; who still remembers ‘Eastlands’ or ‘Ashburton Grove?’ Perhaps money talks even louder today than it did 30 years ago?

Not that the Seagulls are about to s***t on their good fortune. Having mismanaged their way out of the Goldstone Ground – their home for some 95 years – and then shared Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium before returning to Brighton for a jog around the mighty Withdean Stadium, they finally received planning permission for this new ground, built into the side of a hill.

The team has, of course, benefitted from having a settled home and sound financial basis for now. Currently playing in the Premier League for the first time they find themselves in the top half of the table after a third of the season’s matches have been and gone – some super, some sloppy.

Brighton’s current manager is Chris Hughton who seems also to have been built into the side of a hill and is similarly grounded. His side has been solidly built from the defence upwards and he has stated urbanely that Christmas will be “a period that will test us and give us an indication of where we are.” Presumably, this is Chris’s less-than-subtle press statement that all he wants from Santa is a Sat Nav?

Chris was certainly unimpressed with his side’s naïve defending against Stoke City on Monday evening, but did promise that “we are going to concede goals.”

Brighton v Stoke on the Monday Night Football is not a glamorous prospect and a mid-table or top-half finish probably represents the height of both clubs’ ambitions.

Steve Claridge – who holds the current record for playing for more football clubs in England than actually exist – described Stoke’s Swiss international Xherdan Shaqiri as a ‘little magician.’ There aren’t many flair players like this in Chris Hughton’s world but then that just illustrates the difference between him and Stoke manager Mark Hughes.

Hughes was himself frustrated that Shaqiri had produced a white rabbit but then let it free to run all over the pitch, which is why he was substituted for Peter Crouch who became the most used substitute in Premier League history, with his 143rd appearance off the bench. Like I said, not exactly top-notch stuff this.

Hughes apparently admitted that he needed to send his dog out to catch the rabbit, or maybe even head it into touch.

“As an away side, I suppose we have to be happy, but we got ourselves into a winning position twice and lost the lead twice. I yelled at my dog Cwrrdddddddfawwwrrrannnwyyyy but there was some kind of communication problem out there. It’s like rounding up sheep without a dog sometimes, to be honest.”

Are sheepdog trials perhaps the new association football for those clubs without the budgets of small countries behind them? Are Brighton really serious about winning another trophy to go with the Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Charity Cup which they won in 1960 and 1961? Or, will mid-table security in a nice new home do nicely?

About the Author

Mark Rasdall
I am a writer and football historian. My background is in information architecture and online search and all of this has come together in The Football Ground at