Paul Barber, OBE, the CEO of Brighton & Hove Albion FC – from a childhood dream of being a pro-player to a highly successful career across Football from the FA of England, Tottenham (his childhood club) to becoming the CEO of the Year in the Premier League, driving Brighton to new heights (including European Football action) in the most competitive Football League in the world.
Football his first love from age of 7, dream to be a pro player but didn’t have the talent. Love being involved in the game
From working with blue chip financial organizations (Barclays) to the world of Football with the FA as Director of Marketing in 2000
Great time to be in the FA, first director of marketing, David Beckham era and other major changes – 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup new team marketing
Large portfolio of companies and sponsors, taking England team on the road across the country
Applied for CEO of FA, didn’t happen at the time and moved to Ogilvy & Mather as CEO of Europe/Middle East for a short sting
Next Football stop, Tottenham Hotspurs as Executive Director – childhood dream working with the club he grew up supporting
Owner Daniel Levy and working with him
One of the first teams signing a big Betting company as Jersey sponsor and how to deal with the sensitivity
Peace Cup in Korea
Next stop, CEO of Vancouver Whitecaps FC – two years in the MLS – great learnings
Taking the role of CEO at Brighton, when they were still in the Championship in 2012 – a hundred year old “start up”
Vision of Tony Bloom convinced him to join
Missed out on Premier League promotion before finally making it up to the top division
Big American Express deal as Venue sponsor
Overnight success, 7-8 years in the making – the journey and stories along the way
All starts with a great owner – clear vision, value
Best infrastructure, top training facilities, stadium
Make changes and upgrade along the way, including people
A bit of luck important too
Ignore the “noise” by media/fans and stay focused on vision/mission
How do you compete with the huge foreign capital other big clubs have at their disposal – 8-10 clubs now pushing to play in Europe in the Premier League
Competing in European Football (UEFA Europa League) and keeping sight of top half in League – constant learning – competing in four competitions
Tony Bloom – Moneyball in Football - data driven recruitment (resources and data from David’s core analytics business)
Also creating opportunities to sell players with good margins
Very engaged Non-Executive Chairman, stability is key
Target to be a top 10 club in Premier league and top 4 team in Women’s Super League - still work in progress
Keep improving and not standing still
Women’s Team discussion – development of women’s football – investment in the game for long-run and the changes a club needs to make to cater the players and fans
Paul Barber joined the board of Brighton & Hove Albion FC as chief executive in June 2012. In his first season with Brighton, the club secured its highest league position for over 30 years, made the Championship play-offs, enjoyed the highest average attendances in its division, and signed its largest-ever shirt sponsorship agreement, a multi-year deal with American Express.
Paul was named Overall CEO of the Year for England and Scotland, as well as Championship CEO of the Year, at the Football Industry Awards 2013, and won the Sports Executive of the Year at the 2016 International Stadium Business Awards.
Having taken part in three EFL Championship play-offs in four seasons, Brighton narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to the Premier League, by virtue of goal difference, in 2016. A year later, the club achieved automatic promotion to the Premier League and subsequently finished 15th in its first season.
Paul’s career in professional football has spanned close to 25 years, during which time he has held senior positions at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC, and The Football Association.
Paul has served on various committees for the Premier League, The EFL, The FA, UEFA and FIFA, including The EFL’s board and The FA’s Professional Game Board. Most recently, Paul was elected by clubs to be a Premier League representatives on The FA Council. Paul also currently serves as one of The FA’s international ambassadors.
In November 2018, Barber was appointed as the club's deputy chairman following unanimous approval from the board and also became the Premier League's representative to the Professional Game Board, replacing the outgoing Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis.