Thomas Frank hails the ‘fantastic stories’ of Brentford and Brighton

The sides meet on Saturday, 10 years after they faced each other in League One
Brighton and Brentford have both come up through the divisions, playing in new grounds (John Walton/PA)

Brighton and Brentford have both come up through the divisions, playing in new grounds (John Walton/PA)

By Jim van Wijk, PA

Thomas Frank feels the rise of unfashionable Brentford and Brighton to compete in the top flight shows just why the dream of promotion and drive of fighting against relegation must never be taken away.

The Seagulls head to the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday for the first meeting between the two sides in the Premier League.

When they played each other 10 years ago, it was in League One, while in 1998/1999 both teams were in the fourth tier, with Brentford going on to win the Division Three title.

Brentford head coach Frank admits the rise of both clubs are “fantastic stories”, with Brighton having gone from being homeless in 1997 and facing an uncertain future to now looking to hold their own among England’s elite.

Such scenarios, though, would have remained nothing more than a pipe dream had plans for a closed-shop European Super League been allowed to get off the ground.

“It is important to have relegation and promotion, it is a big part of the sport and what we are playing for, trying to win, to achieve something – and also in some cases try to avoid something,” said Frank.

“I hope it gives the boost to a lot of other clubs out there that are dreaming about the Premier League or building a club which is sustainable financially over time and self-driven.

“That is two fantastic stories and a reminder to everyone else who is at the club that you can never stop developing.”

Frank added: “I am pretty sure that 10 years ago nobody thought that Brighton or Brentford would be in the Premier League, especially some of the established clubs (there) at that time.

“It is a reminder to all of us that we need to remember where we are from.

“The day our ego grows too big and I can’t take the bin out or take a bag, then we are in big, big problems. I think that happens to some clubs.”

Brentford’s recent progress has been largely built on developing talent to be sold on for a profit, which is then reinvested into the squad.

The Bees will come up against former forward Neal Maupay on Saturday, having taken a chance on the Frenchman to bring him to England in 2017 before his departure two years later when he joined Brighton in a £20million deal.

“There are a lot of people in Brentford who are proud to have been a big part of some of these players’ development,” said Frank, who stepped up into the hotseat in October 2018 after Dean Smith left for Aston Villa.

“When people move on and they keep developing, you always follow them and see how it goes because you have been part of their life, and they are part of yours, so you are connected in a way.”

Frank, though, believes Brentford’s continued development now puts them in a different position when considering any interest in key men, such as striker Ivan Toney.

“You saw in the summer, in that way it has already changed a bit,” he said.

“We tried to raise the bar, so hopefully next time we are going to sell a player, it is to a top six club, because then we have taken another jump.

“But personally I just prefer to keep the players, we just need to develop as well as a club.”

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