• The Curious Departure of David Stockdale

    Having just helped secure promotion for Brighton, you'd have expected David Stockdale to be gearing up for life in the Premier League. However, the Leeds-born stopper packed his bags and joined Birmingham City in the Championship.

    Source: Football League Zone via Twitter

    Stockdale's announcement as Birmingham's first signing of the Summer came as a surprise to the majority of onlookers who had probably expected the stopper to remain with the club that he helped reach the top flight for the first time in 34 years. He, however, had other ideas.

    The 31-year-old played 45 times for the Seagulls last season and kept 20 clean sheets during a successful Championship campaign and has returned to the second tier to work under Harry Redknapp at Birmingham.

    He's joined the Blues on a three-year deal after rejecting a new contract at the East Sussex club despite extensive negotiations. Stockdale was popular at the club and left on good terms. Some fans even created a Facebook campaign dedicated to persuading him to remain with the newly promoted team. He suggested things "didn't work out" at Brighton; however, helping the Seagulls to promotion isn't a bad way to end your spell at the club.

    The two parties weren't able to come to an agreement and Stockdale decided his future lay elsewhere. He will be aiming for back-to-back Championship promotions when he lines up for his new club in August. If Birmingham fail to make it to the Premier League, however, Stockdale still might end up facing his old club, as the Seagulls have been priced up at 6/5 in the Premier League odds to be relegated at the first time of asking.

    Source: Birmingham City Fan App via Twitter

    Albion replaced the departed goalkeeper with Mathew Ryan from Valencia and although he's away on international duty until late June the two parties were able to agree on terms to complete the deal.

    One of the theories surrounding the transfer is that Stockdale wishes to be closer to his family, who are all based in Yorkshire. This is a perfectly plausible explanation and, as he approaches his 32nd birthday, perhaps the offer of a three-year contract closer to home was too tempting a prospect to turn down. Stockdale's hometown club Leeds were also thought to be interested, but uncertainty over the managerial situation at Elland Road meant Birmingham beat them to his signature.

    The Yorkshireman knows his way around the second tier and is likely to be installed as first-choice keeper despite the presence of Adam Legzdins and Tomasz Kuszczak in the squad. These could have been further incentives. Stockdale will leave with the supporters' best wishes and will always be fondly remembered for his support to the families caught up in the Shoreham air disaster.

    The Seagulls tied up a deal for Mathew Ryan and move on quickly as they prepare for their campaign in the top flight. Stockdale will get to know his new team-mates over the next few weeks and he might still get the chance to play Premier League football in the future – but it won't be with Brighton & Hove Albion.