Paul Hodson

Build a Bonfire

Build a Bonfire

How Football Fans United to Save Brighton and Hove Albion


How would you feel if your football club was bought by a businessman who saw your ground as real estate? And what if your ground was demolished leaving you with nowhere to play next season?

Many fans believe that when Bill Archer, a Blackburn-based entrepreneur, bought Brighton and Hove Albion, he had no passion for the club or the game but rather saw an opportunity to make a profit. If so, he made the fatal mistake of misjudging football fans.

In July 1995, Brighton's local daily paper led its front page with the headline 'Seagulls Migrate', announcing that the Goldstone Ground was to be sold to a property developer for £7.4 million and that 'home' games were to be played at Portsmouth. All this without one word of consultation with the fans.

What followed was the biggest campaign in the history of football to save a club. Drawing on dozens of interviews with people directly involved - the fans, the FA, the players and the management - Build a Bonfire dramatically traces the progress of the two-year fight with the board: two years of despair, absurdity and solidarity.

In so doing, the book not only explores implications for other clubs, in a world where the battle lines between football and money are being drawn ever tighter, but also creates a picture of that strange and wonderful thing: the football fan.

And having lived through the crisis and listened to the fans, the authors can offer their Ten Essential Steps to Depose your Club Chairman, should the need arise . . .