Automatic promotion is getting simpler: Brighton must win their final game at Middlesbrough. Going into the Derby game a win and a draw at Middlesbrough would have sufficed, but now only the victory.
Nothing could be resolved yesterday though Burnley’s 0ne-nil win over QPR meant they had achieved automatic promotion. Derby scored first through Andreas Weimann and only a very late equaliser in the 95th minute from James Wilson earned the Seagulls a draw. There were two negatives. Lewis Dunk had a rush of blood to his head and committed an unnecessary foul a long way outside the box for which he was red-carded and therefore will miss the Boro match. The second was that Derby looked an impressive side, a side capable of beating us on the play-offs as they did two seasons ago.
There was the biggest-ever crowd at the Amex of 30,200, numbering behind me a grey-haired rabbi, Pesach Efuni, of my acquaintance resplendent not in a skull cap and prayer shawl but baseball cap and scarf in Brighton colors. An Israeli flag flew in the North Stand for Kayal and Hemed so we Jewish supporters felt very much at home and at ease.
There was optimistic talk of the £200m distribution should we reach the Promised land, of games against Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea Manchester City and United, Liverpool and Everton, and closer encounters against Southampton and Bournemouth. In the Championship the nearest away fixture is Charlton. We have not got there yet though. It seems unfair to me that we have no advantage should we play Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs who could finish 15 points below us.
Finally a word of congratulations to Ranieri’s Leicester. Any team that suffers only 3 defeats are worthy winners. One legacy of their title is the aspiration to those loyal players who achieved much for the club, the likes of Huth, Morgan, Simpson and Schmeichel, whom one might assess as below the level of Premier calibre. We have similar types in Stephens and Bruno and should we be playing in the Premier I hope they will be given the opportunity to do so too. Above all I hope the architect of our successful season, Chris Hughton, is given more backing than he received when he promoted Norwich and Newcastle.