Townsend backing promoted Brighton to survive then thrive in Premier League
Former Premier League midfielder Andy Townsend has backed Brighton to survive in the division this season and believes they can develop into an established top-flight club.
The Seagulls are back among English football's elite for the first time since 1983 after boss Chris Hughton guided them to the Championship runners-up spot last term.
They open their first ever Premier League campaign by hosting Manchester City on Saturday.
Hughton, who ex-Chelsea, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough midfielder Townsend played alongside for the Republic of Ireland, has experience of managing in the division with Newcastle and Norwich.
His side's preparations this summer have seen Brighton break their transfer record twice so far, and they are set to do so a third time via the capture of Colombia winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge.
Townsend told Press Association Sport: "It will be a tough season ahead, but I have a feeling Brighton will survive, probably by the skin of their teeth.
"Chris has been doing this a long time now, and he's a shrewd guy.
"They are keen, ambitious. The whole town is desperately looking forward to Premier League football - they have had to wait a long time to be back in the top flight. And they are spending money as we speak.
"I think what will be crucial will be their home form. I'm sure Chris will know the key for any newly-promoted team is how you do at home.
"I'm quite confident Brighton can chip away with a few wins early on, get some points on the board, and do enough to give themselves a fighting chance come the turn of the year."
Townsend feels the Amex Stadium outfit have every chance of a long-term future in the Premier League should they beat the drop this time.
"They have got everything in place," the 54-year-old said.
"If they stay there this year, the confidence they will get from that...
"Brighton is a lovely part of the country to come and live and work in, so they shouldn't have problems in terms of attracting players.
"If they survive this year, the rest I'm sure will start to take care of itself."
Leicester famously defied odds of 5000/1 from the beginning of 2015-16 to win the Premier League that season, and bookmaker Marathonbet is offering the same on Brighton claiming the trophy this time around.
Townsend's old employers Chelsea are the defending champions and he thinks it likely the forthcoming title race will be a showdown between them, Manchester City and Manchester United.
He said: "I think the champions are the team to beat - they weren't champions for nothing. I think the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea will be fighting tooth and nail for the title."
:: Andy Townsend was speaking on behalf of Marathonbet.