Page last updated at 21:41 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 22:41 UK

Seagulls chairman to fund stadium

Plans for Falmer Stadium
The 22,500-seater stadium is due to open in August 2011

The chairman of Brighton and Hove Albion has stepped down to make way for a new boss who is financing the football club's new stadium.

The majority of funding for the £93m stadium at Falmer will now be provided by Tony Bloom, who paid tribute to the former chairman.

Dick Knight, who ran the club for 12 years, has become life president of Brighton and Hove Albion.

He said the decision was a "natural progression" for the club.

Work started in 2008 on the construction of the 22,500-seater stadium, which is due to open in August 2011.

It took several years for plans to be finalised, following protests from local people.

'Back in Championship'

Changes to health and safety and disability access rules while the dispute went on also meant the original plans had to be changed.

Mr Knight said: "Tony's investment will mean no need for external funding, which is absolutely superb news for the club and its fans.

"Being chairman of the Albion has been the most rewarding period of my life. To be able to give something back to the club I've supported since I was a boy has been a privilege."

Dick Knight boss reflects on career

He added: "Thanks to Tony's support, the club is now financially secure, the stadium is on its way, and the club now has the opportunity to reach its true potential.

"We have come a long way from what Bob Pinnock, Martin Perry and I inherited 12 years ago and I am proud of what we, the directors, staff, players and fans, have all achieved together."

Mr Bloom said Mr Knight had saved the club from "almost certain extinction".

"I want to see the club build on the momentum under our newly appointed manager Russell Slade," he said.

"I am determined to see us back in the Championship as soon as possible."

The initial planning application for a stadium on land north of Village Way, in Falmer, was submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council in 2001.

It was accepted by the government in July 2007 after a High Court challenge and two public inquiries.

Brighton and Hove Albion have been without a stadium since their former home - the Goldstone Ground - closed in 1997 and was then sold off.

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