Brighton and Hove Albion have revealed that traffic delays on the M25 were a key factor behind their failure to coax Alex Pritchard from Tottenham Hotspur earlier this week.
The Championship side, who painfully missed out on automatic promotion to the Premier League last term on the final day before losing to Sheffield Wednesday in the play-offs, looked all set to seal their latest summer transfer deal after agreeing a club-record £8m deal but ended up watching in horror as Norwich City swooped in late to effectively hijack the deal.
Former England U21 international Pritchard signed a four-year contract at Carrow Road and Brighton quickly attempted to atone for the disappointment by capturing Oliver Norwood from Reading.
And while the deep-lying playmaker should certainly provide a boost to Brighton's promotion push alongside Dale Stephens and Beram Kyal after featuring for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016, many supporters will be disappointed to have missed out on a player who was widely coveted by second-tier clubs following his impressive season-long stint with Brentford in 2014/15.
The topic unsurprisingly featured at the latest annual fans' forum held at the Amex Stadium on Thursday night (4 August), where Albion chief executive Paul Barber explained exactly what scuppered the deal.
"We don't usually share transfer info, but we will make an exception with this one," he was quoted as saying on Brighton's official Twitter account when asked how clubs can prevent being gazumped at the last minute. "We agreed terms with Spurs, and then agreed terms with the player and agent. Player was travelling to us.
"There were delays on the M25, and it was during that delay another club jumped on the deal. These things happen in football, and we are not naive enough to think that doesn't happen. We move on. [manager] Chris Hughton, [chairman] Tony Bloom and I weren't happy, but most important thing now is getting players who want to play for us."
Brighton begin their latest attempt to secure a first top-flight return since 1983, away to fellow beaten play-off semi-finalists Derby County at the iPro Stadium tomorrow afternoon. Along with Norwood, Hughton has bolstered his squad this summer by retaining the services of experienced midfielder Steve Sidwell on a permanent deal and loaning former club favourite Glenn Murray from Bournemouth five years after the striker's controversial defection to rivals Crystal Palace.