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Brighton's Fight Part 2
By: Todd Bontoft
A location was found, just outside Brighton, on the edge of a village called Falmer.
The Brighton to Lewes railway line lies immediately to the north of the proposed site, with a station just 200 metres away. To the North of the railway line is the A27 Trunk Road, a dual carriageway between Brighton and Lewes. The site is a ploughed field of 3.4 hectares and is entirely owned by Brighton and Hove Council.
May 1999 witnessed perhaps the most hotly debated issue in Brighton's recent history as voters in the south coast town were gripped by weeks of election fever, as the council elections approached.
But it was football not local government that had been at the centre of debate as Brighton's residents took part in a unique but controversial referendum, held on the same day as the council elections, to decide the location of a new stadium for the third division club.
More than 100,000 homes were leafleted and numerous public meetings held that pitted town against country.
Trawling around news articles unsurprisingly show supporters' groups and the club campaigning for a 'yes' vote for the stadium whereas the Falmer villagers claimed that a stadium on their doorstep would ruin their tranquil way of life.
Speaking during the elections Paul Samrah, a Brighton fan and one of the campaigners for the stadium is reported as saying, 'It's totally overridden the local government elections,'
Meanwhile, familiar retorts were returned by the 'no' campaign, 'It's going to ruin the village,' said Eric Huxham, chairman of Falmer parish council.
The population was asked whether they supported the local council's attempt to find a new home for Brighton and should the new stadium be built in Falmer.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favour.
There is still a long way to go for Albion fans but with the support of public opinion and a helpful council, after many years of uncertainty things are definitely improving.
The stadium, once completed, will have a capacity of 25,000 costing around Â£25 million, and the majority on the Sussex coast just can't wait.
I suspect Brighton fans, until that very first game kicks off in the new stadium, will count no chickens.
I think it wise for town fans to not even think about counting, just yet!
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