Before the 1990-91 season Barry Lloyd signed Mike Small and John Byrne who had been playing on the continent. The quality of football improved, but the fans who had disappeared in the recession of the 1980's did not return on a regular basis. Despite conceding more goals than they scored Brighton finished in 6th place and qualified for the play-offs courtesy of a last minute free kick by Dean Wilkins swerved over the wall against the only quality side in the Division: Ipswich in a 2-1 win in the last League match of the season. Brighton beat Millwall 4-1 and 2-1 in the first play-offs and took their biggest ever crowd on an away trip with 32,400 supporters on the road to Wembley in a crowd of 59,940. Brighton were thwarted by the woodwork twice, but were eventually outwitted by Notts County and lost 1-3.
Brighton gained a classic FA Cup 3rd Round 2-2 draw against Liverpool
after being 0-2 down, but lost the Goldstone replay 2-3 AET, when it was
Liverpool's turn to come back from the dead in a game Brighton let slip.
In 1991-92 Brighton again sold their best players Mike Small and
John Byrne, and lost the experienced Steve Gatting in defence. At least
this time, the players were sold for a decent price, West Ham United paying
£400,000 for Small and Sunderland laying out £235,000 for Byrne.
Crowds fell again and the team plummeted for the second time they had sold
all their best players and were relegated from Division 2 to the the New
Division 2 (after the formation of the Premier League). In the FA Cup 3rd
Round a capacity crowd of 18,031 against non-leaguers Crawley T. saw Brighton
win 5-0 in what was a local derby. The dissatisfied fans formed the Brighton
Independent Supporters Association and staged protests.
In 1992-93, serious financial problems meant that the players did
not get paid on time and Brighton facing a winding-up petition. They sold
Mark Beeney, the keeper to Leeds United for £350,000 and obtained
a stay of execution from their financial problems. They finished 9th in
Division 2. Money was also made from three meetings with Manchester United
watched by 75,664 spectators. In the League Cup, United did not bring a
full team with the supporters unable to see Ryan Giggs. Brighton drew 1-1
in the home match and lost 0-1 at Old Trafford where supporters said they
played well. In the FA Cup, Brighton struggled to beat Woking after a replay
and met Manchester United at Old Trafford. Only Clive Walker made any impression
for Brighton, but the game was heading for a 0-0 draw until Ryan Giggs
swerved a free kick around the defensive wall for a late winner 0-1.
1993-94 began badly under Barry Lloyd and to the relief of the supporters
he was finally dismissed as Brighton were next to bottom in Division 2
at the end of November. Liam Brady took over in December 1993, and 10,053
spectators turned up for the visit of Barnet to see Brighton win 1-0 followed
by a crowd of 9,753 to see Kurt Nogan score a rare Brighton hatrick in
a 4-1 win over Cambridge United. This was followed by a dramatic come back
in an exciting 3-3 draw at home to Bournemouth before 9,689 spectators.
Liam Brady had a daunting task to build a completely new side. However,
he managed to save them from relegation in a season when Brighton finished
In 1994-95 under the new leadership of Liam Brady Brighton finished
16th in Division 2.. In the FA Cup they lost 1-2 at non-league Kingstonian.
One plus was the two leg League Cup victory over Premier League Leicester
City 1-0 at the Goldstone and 2-0 at Filbert Street with Stuart Munday
scoring a spectacular 30 yard opening goal.
1995-96 was a disastrous season as they fell to next to bottom of Division 2 by October and then started on a bad run which led to Liam Brady's resignation. They never escaped the relegation zone and by the end of the season dropped into the bottom division (now Division 3) for the second time ever. New Manager Jimmy Case was unable to stop the slide after Liam Brady departed. A thousand fans invaded the pitch after the home match against Carlisle in April and demanded the Directors Archer and Bellotti Out! and demonstrated that they would not be going to watch home matches at Fratton Park, Portsmouth. Albion won the match 1-0. In the final match against York City before a crowd of over 10,000, the discontented supporters invaded the pitch during the first half and the match was abandoned. There were no complaints from the rest of the crowd. The replayed match played in a midweek afternoon, with tickets not available on the day, was all time League low for Brighton of 2,106, and this was the official crowd attendance for the match.
The sale of the Goldstone Ground to developers had ignited the fires
of simmering protests that had rumbled for over a decade. In the close
season a further one year tenure of the ground had been secured so Brighton
had somewhere to play for 1996-97.
Albion Supporters Association (External Link)
Jimmy Case seemed to have built a team of very good players and the supporters expected Brighton to figure amongst the promotion contenders.
Because of protests against the Board of Directors, Bellotti and Archer, the atmosphere at the ground for most home matches was apalling. This began to have an affect on performances and it certainly contributed in reducing the attendances to an all time low.
Two points were deducted by the League after a mini crowd invasion in a home defeat against Lincoln City.
Brighton found them themselves at the bottom of the bottom division (at one time 12 points adrift) in 1996-97 going into the new year, and faced going out of the League. Jimmy Case lost his job after a humiliating home FA Cup replay defeat against non-league Sudbury Town, followed by another home defeat against strugglers Darlington.. Steve Gritt was appointed Manager.
Director David Bellotti announced a contract had been signed for
Brighton to play at the Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham, next season, to
the complete display of all the fans. Gates plunged to an all time low.
The Goldstone East Terrace was completely closed.
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John Byrne is now Manager of Sussex County League Team Shoreham (September 1998)
FONT COLOR="#3333FF">John Byrne is now Manager of Sussex County League Team Shoreham (September 1998)