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Graham Potter apologises to Brighton fans over abrupt departure to Chelsea

Graham Potter raises his hands to clap

New Chelsea manager Graham Potter has apologised to former club Brighton & Hove Albion and their fans over his abrupt departure to the west London club in an open letter.

After only six Premier League games in a promising campaign for Brighton, Potter left the job with the Seagulls.

He joined Chelsea to replace Thomas Tuchel, who was sacked after tensions arose between him and the new regime of Todd Boehly and the Clearlake Consortium.

Brighton are currently fourth on the Premier League table after four wins, one draw and a loss to Fulham.

“This has been three wonderful years with a club that has changed my life,” the 47-year-old former Swansea City and Ostersunds manager said.

“I want to take a moment to say goodbye to all of you who have made it such a special period of my career.

“I bid farewell to a great club and one that will always mean so much to me and my family. For some, I recognise that the change that comes so suddenly in football can be hard to accept.

“I may not be able to persuade you all to forgive my departure – but I would at least like to take the chance to say thank you.

“All good clubs need great owners and great fans. Brighton & Hove Albion have both. I will cherish the relationships I built in all aspects of the club. My players went above and beyond. My staff gave everything.

“At the heart of it were the Albion fans. On every matchday at the Amex, the connection with the team was strong. When we played away you came in your thousands to roar us on.

“I know what you have been through to see your club finally in a modern stadium and thriving in the Premier League. I felt it every time I stood on the touchline.

“To those of you who stopped to chat when I was in the city or further afield – and the many who wrote to me – all those connections meant a great deal. Your personal stories of following the club – of parents and grandparents who were fans – helped me to understand what makes Albion special.

“I hope that you will understand that at this stage of my career, I felt I had to grasp a new opportunity.

“I would like to thank Tony Bloom, Paul Barber and the directors for the opportunity they gave me three years ago and then the unswerving support that came with it. My gratitude also to Dan Ashworth and David Weir, two first-class technical directors.

“To the staff at both the stadium and the training ground: all of you have impressed me with the pride you have taken in your work. You supported the club and you also supported me through some tough times in my personal life.

“Brighton & Hove Albion is a club full of good people who work together in the right way to accomplish things.

“We have shared some brilliant moments. The 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in my first season stands out. So too, the 2-1 win over Arsenal after lockdown. It was an amazing afternoon, especially given what many had gone through in the preceding months.

“My only wish was that our supporters had been there to enjoy that with us.

“When the stadiums were partially opened we experienced an incredible atmosphere for the 3-2 win over Manchester City in the final home game of the 2020/21 season. I know many of you enjoyed the 4-0 win over Manchester United last season.

“We finished that season with a 3-1 win over West Ham on the final day to seal a record points tally for the club and a highest-ever league position. These are great memories.

“The Albion has given me that and more. I feel I am a better person and a better manager for the experiences I have had here.

“Not every team selection or decision has been perfect. But the club has created an environment that gives you the scope to make mistakes, learn from them and then improve. I have always tried to act with integrity and be a good person.

“These are values I hold dear, and I know that the Albion do too.”

After closing his chapter with Brighton, Potter faces a tough task with Chelsea.

The Blues were due to face Fulham this weekend for what would be their first game of the Potter era, but the Queen’s death caused the FA to postpone all Premier League games.

Potter will start his Chelsea adventure against RB Salzburg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in the Champions League.

Chelsea will be desperate for all three points to avoid getting into trouble. In their opening Group E encounter, they lost their first game to Dinamo Zagreb.

They need maximum points from their remaining five games to ensure qualification.

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