May 23, 2017
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Brighton early favourites for relegation – would summer spending swing the odds in their favour?

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Bookmakers have released odds for the 2017-18 Premier League season and new boys Brighton and Hove Albion have been made favourites to be relegated. Two of the teams that were promoted for this season, Hull and Middlesbrough, have been sent straight back down to the Championship, so what lessons can Chris Hughton’s men learn from the way those clubs approached life in the Premiership to ensure a similar fate does not befall them?

In short, a lack of ambition in the transfer market cost Boro and Hull. Getting the chequebook out is a huge risk for recently promoted clubs, because if you spend big and still go down you will be in a hazardous financial position, with an unmanageable wage bill and the need to sell most of your best players. This makes it more difficult to be promoted again. A less risky way of approaching it is to spend moderately, safe in the knowledge that if you are relegated you will be financially secure and one of the best teams in the Championship.

This method has worked for Burnley, who have stayed up this season, and various other clubs, from West Bromwich Albion to Norwich. Hull are a perfect example of a yo-yo club. But if you spend big and spend wisely upon being promoted, you can establish yourself as a top flight outfit and not worry too much about relegation. Crystal Palace are a good example of this, splashing the cash on the likes of Cristian Benteke and Yohan Cabaye and consolidating their place in the Premiership. They have flirted with relegation for a while this season, but ultimately finished well clear of Boro and Hull after significantly outspending them.

Goals keep you up, and someone like Benteke is so valuable for clubs in the bottom half of the Premiership. He kept Aston Villa in the top flight for years, and has done the same at Palace. A scrappy forward that is strong and good in the air, with a good eye for goal. Brighton have Glenn Murray, who has proven he can score in the Premiership, but they need more firepower. They could do a lot worse than breaking the bank to sign Jermain Defoe from relegated Sunderland. Despite playing for the bottom club, he finished near the top of the goal scorer charts this season. Loan signings from the elite clubs and raiding the Championship, for someone like Chris Wood, could pay dividends.

It was a lack of goals that sent Boro down, and Brighton could follow suit if they do not invest properly. A Pinnacle Sports odds review shows they are ahead of Burnley and Watford as favourites to go down, and the squad definitely needs investment. It was good enough to finish second in the Championship, but needs more quality to survive in the top flight. It also needs to be broadened. Hull’s downfall was not having a big enough squad: they could barely even scratch together a subs bench at times this season and struggled whenever first team players were injured. If they learn from these mistakes and blend the core crop with some experienced Premier League talent, they could well establish themselves as a force in the top flight for years to come.

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Brighton and Hove Albion

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