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The ground was sold by the board, who were trying to clear the club’s mounting debts in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy, although no alternative football ground had been lined up, and without consulting the fans. The then chairman, Bill Archer, aimed to profit from the sale of the lucrative development land on which the Goldstone stood. A ground share with Portsmouth never materialised and the club eventually arranged a ground-share with Gillingham at their Priestfield Stadium over 70 miles from Brighton.

The last game at The Goldstone was held on 26 April 1997, in which Brighton beat Doncaster Rovers 1-0. The result lifted Brighton off the bottom of Division Three and meant that a draw or win in their visit to Hereford United the following weekend would prevent relegation to the Conference and preserve their Football League status. Brighton went on to draw the game 1-1 and secure survival – thus avoiding becoming the first former members of the top flight or the first major cup finalists to be relegated to the Conference.