Brighton the most well-run club? Ask the manager they sacked live on TV…
Apart from sticking it to the man in pure Hollywood fashion, there’s never a good way to lose your job.
Sure, it’s possible to maintain your dignity. As your boss sugarcoats their decision with meaningless platitudes, it’s best to keep a semblance of composure and avoid the temptation to go full David Brent by begging to stay. We’re all better than that.
But the actual act of being fired? It’s brutal, pitiless and impossible not to take personally.
So spare a thought for Gus Poyet, who learnt he’d been sacked as manager of Brighton in 2013 on live television while working as a pundit for the BBC. Ouch.
Poyet had taken over at Brighton in 2009 and won promotion to the Championship in 2011. The former Chelsea midfielder guided them to a fourth-place finish in 2012-13, but the Seagulls failed to reach the play-off final, losing 2-0 on aggregate to bitter rivals Crystal Palace in the semi-finals.
That disappointing defeat was overshadowed by a bizarre incident in which excrement was found in the visitors’ dressing room prior to the match at the AMEX Stadium.
Poyet was furious at the affair and sent an angry email to club staff, in which he also criticised the issuing to home fans at the match with paper “clappers” in an effort to generate atmosphere.
He was soon suspended by Brighton alongside assistant Mauricio Taricco and coach Charlie Oatway – partly because the hierarchy was annoyed by aspects of his aforementioned email.
And the club, a byword for forward-thinking modernity in 2023, chose to dispense of their manager in the most public way fashionable.
Shunted over to BBC3, Spain against Nigeria at the Confederations Cup was not expected to make national headlines. Only hardcore footballing addicts and insomniacs were expected to tune in for coverage of the match from Brazil.
That was until presenter Mark Chapman opened the half-time analysis by reading Brighton’s statement confirming their decision to sack Poyet as the Uruguayan squirmed two seats away.
“I’m probably the first to be in this position,” an ashen-faced Poyet said in reply, having been informed by a member of the broadcaster’s production team during the first half.
“Everyone can make their own conclusions about the way I have been informed by you.
“I think the BBC got a great story forever really because a manager getting the information that he’s been released from his employment during the time of a programme is quite surprising.
“Are they [the club] messing with my career? We will see, it’s too early to say. I am looking forward to clearing this.”
“The only thing I’m concentrating on is the appeal,” he told the BBC at full-time, having presumably spent the second half of Spain-Nigeria simmering with impotent rage.
“Because it is the right thing to do. I cannot stand it any more because after all this I took a little bit longer with my lawyers and they are reading the email I still don’t have myself and so it’s very difficult to make any comments.
“I need to read everything first but I’m saying I will appeal whatever they say in the email – I know myself and I want to make sure everything is clear and whatever step I need to make I will make in the future.”
An incredibly messy break-up followed, with an internal court hearing upholding Brighton’s decision to sack Poyet because of ‘gross misconduct’ and insisting he’d been informed about it before the infamous BBC broadcast.
“When people started saying lies about why I left the club, that hurt me a lot,” Poyet would later say. “But unfortunately we live in a world where if you have Twitter, and you say you are close to me or the staff or the chairman and you repeat it and repeat and repeat it, people believe it.”
Speaking to We are Brighton, his belief was simple; he had the perfect relationship with Bloom right up until new faces began arriving in the boardroom.
“My relationship with Tony Bloom was exceptional,” Poyet said. “He had a connection with me, we had an understanding and he helped me a lot. We came together at the right time.”
“We will never be able to talk properly about the situation that saw me sacked because it is private and confidential. But in reality, it shouldn’t be confidential as I got sacked. I think there is too much respect to say what happened.”
“In my opinion, the club thought I had too much power. I didn’t ask for it, but slowly they were giving it to me and I took it because of my character. I obviously took it, because it was me.”
“Inside the boardroom, things were changing. Especially new people who were not liking someone with that power inside the club. They can invent things. They can spread rumours.”
While Poyet could be so high-maintenance that it made Antonio Conte appear a blushing wall-flower in comparison, it’s hard to argue that he deserved to hear of his fate like an X Factor contestant.
It might have made for popcorn-grabbing television. But Poyet’s very public sacking was ultimately very uncomfortable viewing.
By Michael Lee