Sunday, 21 Jul 2024

Paul Barber: CEO, Brighton & Hove Albion FC

Paul Barber is the CEO and Deputy Chairman of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. With a passion for football and a commitment to driving the development of the game at all levels, Barber provides a detailed and insightful account of his career in this interview.

A Refreshingly Vocal Approach

Barber’s honest and open approach to addressing the effects of the pandemic on the football industry and Brighton & Hove Albion has gained attention. This approach reflects his natural personality and professional background in marketing and communications. It allows the club to demonstrate leadership and maintain open communication with fans and the media.

Maintaining Open Communication

Barber emphasizes the importance of maintaining open and transparent communication. Throughout the pandemic, Brighton & Hove Albion held frequent media briefings and Zoom sessions with supporters and staff. This commitment to communication helps motivate employees, engage with fans, and run the club effectively.

Test Event and Fans’ Return

Brighton & Hove Albion was one of the first clubs to hold a test event for the return of fans in August 2020. The successful implementation of safety protocols and cooperation from both fans and government officials demonstrated the club’s ability to organize safe events. Despite the disappointment of subsequent matches being played without fans, the club’s efforts were praised by the government and set an example for others.

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Barber’s Career Journey

Barber’s career in football began when he worked with The FA on marketing and commercializing English football. He then became the Marketing Director and later took on additional responsibilities in commercial activities, media, and communications. His experience at The FA led him to a dream job at Tottenham Hotspur before moving to Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer. Barber eventually returned to England and joined Brighton & Hove Albion, where he has been for over eight years.

Adapting to Different Cultures

Working in North America was a significant change for Barber, both personally and professionally. Adapting to the different culture and style was a challenge, but he quickly settled in and embraced the experience. Returning to English football required him to refocus on the intensity and passion of English fans.

The Amex Stadium Project

Barber takes pride in the achievements of the Amex Stadium. The stadium’s design, situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, provides fans with excellent views of the action. The club’s staff, committed to providing excellent service to both home and away fans, contribute to the overall positive experience at the stadium.

Support for Women in Football

Barber’s commitment to supporting and promoting women’s football dates back to his time at The FA. He recognized the challenges faced by the women’s national team and advocated for more support and resources. Barber’s role as a board member of Women in Football allows him to continue supporting and speaking on behalf of women in the industry.

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Skills for Success in Football

Barber believes that effective communication is the most important skill for success in football. Knowing the business, understanding the numbers, and building connections in the industry are also crucial. Negotiation skills come into play frequently, and a balanced mentality, not getting too high or low based on results, helps build stability and confidence within an organization.

Advice for Those Pursuing a Career in Football

Barber advises aspiring professionals to get involved in football from an early stage. Volunteering, obtaining coaching badges, and gaining experience in various roles within a club or organization are essential for building a career in the industry. Demonstrating commitment and passion for football increases the chances of success and advancement.

Future Goals

Barber’s future goals for Brighton & Hove Albion include maintaining Premier League status and achieving top 10 finishes in the Premier League and the Women’s Super League. Winning a domestic cup is also a target for the club. Personally, Barber is content with his current role and feels fortunate to work in a sport he loves. He aims to continue providing leadership and support to the club and its staff.