AN ALBION boss has urged a city council not to “shoot itself in the foot” by refusing to “help” the club.

Tensions flared as the club’s deputy chairman, Paul Barber, accused Brighton and Hove City Council of creating a hostile environment for broadcasters visiting the city.

He referenced several occasions where the council had charged media teams to film in the city, which he described as “the biggest advert Brighton and Hove can get free of charge”.

The Argus:

The discussion began when Labour Councillor Alan Robins, chairman of the tourism development and culture board, quizzed the Albion chief at a meeting yesterday which discussed the economic impact the club has on the city.

Cllr Robins said: “I would like to know how to market the city off the back of that (the global audience attracted by Albion) to make it a place where, when the fixtures come out at the beginning of each year, all the opponents look down and think, ‘oh, I’m happy we’re playing Brighton because we can go down there for the weekend and spend our money in the hotels and restaurants?”

Mr Barber highlighted the positive impact media coverage could have on this but then slammed the council for discouraging this.

The Argus:

He said: “There have been one or two occasions when the council has not helped us. They have wanted to charge broadcasters filming along the seafront.

“I don’t think that helps the city to be honest, this is probably the biggest advert Brighton and Hove can get free of charge.

“Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot and make it difficult for people.”

Instead he urged the council to “help facilitate these things”.

Mr Barber said: “Sometimes broadcasters are not just here to film the stadium and the players, they also want to film the city as a whole.

“With the diversity and the inclusive nature of the city, they want to reflect the seafront, businesses and vibrancy of the city.

The Argus:

“So the more we can do and the more the local authorities can do to facilitate that, that would be a big thumbs up from us, from our broadcast partners and also from our sponsors who will get people more coverage.

Mr Barber was speaking at Albion’s Social and Economic Breakfast yesterday morning.

During the meeting, the club announced it had contributed £212million to the Greater Brighton economy between 2017 and 2018, as well as supporting 2,200 jobs.

It also revealed its total revenue during Albion's first season in the Premier League, as well as where this money had come from.

Mr Barber also alluded to the council’s parking regulations being a factor discouraging fans.

He said: “The more welcoming, the easier we can make it to park in and the easier we can make the city to exist in, is going to encourage more people to come and is going to benefit the local economy.”

The Argus:

During the meeting the club’s executive director, Martin Perry, also lamented the council’s decision to turn down an application for a hotel at Albion’s Amex stadium.

He said: “Sadly, as you know, our application for a hotel was turned down. I think this was a huge opportunity missed.

“But, actually, the impact of losing that application meant that we lost the funding available at the time. So, sadly, we have had to abandon that idea.”

The club promised the proposed 150-bed hotel would bring £6 million to the local economy and create 82 jobs.

But, at the time, the council’s former planning committee chairwoman Julie Cattell said the design was “not up to scratch”.

She registered a casting vote which saw the scheme turned down.

But Mr Perry did say the club had multiple plans in the pipeline for the site.

He said: “We are looking at other ideas, we have got plans of things we want to do at the Amex which we are looking at as a board.

“Part of our reason for producing this report was to demonstrate how important the club is to the local economy and how much we need the support moving forward with these ideas.

“The impact they have on the local economy is huge.”

In the report there is a statement from Brighton and Hove City Council’s head of tourism, Howard Barden.

He said: “Being in the Premier League is great for the international profile of the club and the city.

“As an international visitor destination, with 11 million visitors a year, we are already very successful.

“But there is lots of competition in new and established markets and having the city, through football, broadcast around the world helps us reach potential new visitors.”