Rafa Benitez among the early contenders to replace ex-Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton at Brighton

Chris Hughton has left Brighton & Hove Albion
Chris Hughton has left Brighton & Hove Albion

Former Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton has left Brighton & Hove Albion - despite leading them to Premier League safety.

Hughton, who led Newcastle to the Championship title during his time at St James's Park, managed to guide the Seagulls away from relegation danger in the final weeks of the season.

But after a heavy defeat to champions Manchester City on the final day of the season, Hughton has been dismissed from his role.

Brighton chairman Tony Bloom said: “Chris has done an excellent job over the past four and a half years. First stabilising our club, reaching the play-offs in his first full season, securing our first ever promotion to the Premier League, and retaining our status in two successive seasons.

“Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion, but ultimately one I have made due to how we struggled in the second half of the season.

“Our run of 3 wins from 23 Premier League matches put our status at significant risk. It is with that in mind, and the performances during that period, that I now feel it’s the right time for a change.

“Chris will always be very fondly remembered by Albion staff and fans as one of our club’s finest and most-respected managers.

“I would like to wish Chris, Paul and Paul – who have all worked extremely hard throughout their time here – every success for the future, and thank them on behalf of everyone at the club.

“They will always be welcome at the Amex, and will be remembered here with great affection.”

And among the early contenders to replace Hughton is current Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez, whose long-term future on Tyneside remains uncertain.

Benitez is priced at 20/1 to take over at the Amex Stadium, with Swansea City boss Graham Potter the heavy favourite at 1/4.