Money Matters For Bees

Scott Hammond

Arsenal fans are worried about the impact of their spanking new Emirates stadium. Manchester United are concerned with the health of Wayne Rooney, who has been brought back from injury very quickly. But lower league football team Brentford have far more important things on their agenda as the new football season creeps up on us.


The club, in debt to the tune of more than £7m, has a serious cash crisis. This is the main reason why former manager Martin Allen left on May 30, 2006, after two and a half seasons in charge. Allen, 40, who has undoubtedly been the club's most popular boss in recent history, lead Brentford to the League One play-offs two years running. Unfortunately, the team was beaten in the semi-finals both times, by Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City.

The problem with a club like Brentford is that players come and go rapidly. Because the Bees did not gain promotion last season, and because they could not afford to keep certain players, many of their first team starshave left for bigger clubs. Players such as Michael Dobson, who was a regular first team member for Brentford last season, was let go on a free transfer. The west London team's most loved player, Sam Sodje, has been linked to a £1m move to Coventry City, which could, in turn make things even worse.

The club's desperation for money was apparent half-way through last season after their fantastic  FA Cup fourth round victory over strong Sunderland was marred by the sale of the man who scored both goals in that game. Dudley ‘DJ’ Campbell was sold to Birmingham City three days after the FA Cup tie for a fee of £500,000. This single action made many fans question the club's ambition. But in the end, it was money that the club frantically needed.

The latest bid by the club's beleaguered bosses for money is the potential renaming of one of the stands at their Griffin Park ground. The roofing of  the stadium is already being used as advertising space for Qatar Airways, but now there is talk that the stadium, used since 1904 by the football club, is to be rented out to different advertisers for money.

Allen’s departure was due to the dire financial situation. In a statement made on the Brentford FC website, Allen said: “Unfortunately, at this moment in time it was not possible for the club, due to financial reasons, to bring players in.”

Since Allen’s departure, Brentford has looked for compensation as the manager still had one year left on his contract. Tim Street, of the Hounslow Chronicle, wrote: “Brentford will receive a year of Allen’s wages in compensation from his new club.” A five-figure amount of money sounds good on paper, but it will hardly affect the club's finances.

Since the exit of Allen, the club has been in a bad state. A big casualty was Isaiah Rankin, a strong attacking player who has now moved on a free transfer to Grimsby Town.

Leroy Rosenior
Brentford has since named a new manager in Leroy Rosenior, one of only three Black coaches at this level. He is another young League One manager at 42, and has played for the likes of Queens Park Rangers and Fulham. In a statement made on the BBC website, he said: “This club has gone through some big changes and I'm determined to help them make the jump to the Championship.” The one thing that worries even the most die-hard Brentford fan is that Rosenoir’s track record is not the best.

But, certain stories have circulated that suggest that the club's budget was extended to help Rosenoir in his bid to expand the club. The question is, why could those who run the club have not just done that with Martin Allen? Also, where is the extra money coming from if the club is in so much debt? The rumours were put to rest after I contacted the club in regards to this matter.  

Brentford FC representative Matt Davis said: “As stated at the press conference following Leroy’s arrival here, the playing budget for next season is marginally less than the playing budget for last season.”

It seems as though in the coming season, Brentford FC will be doing all they can to produce revenue for the club. In the Hounslow Chronicle of June 29, 2006, writer Tim Street said: “Brentford fans are be urged to email Sky TV to make sure the Bees don’t get a raw deal from them again this season. Sky managed to infuriate Bees fans by ignoring both their FA Cup run and their Play-Off First Leg…meaning a loss of revenue for the club.” If Brentford are successful in this appeal, it could mean anything up to half a million pounds in extra money for the club.

For many years, Brentford Football Club has fought mass debt but it is not certain for how long they can keep it up. With the new season quickly approaching, and so many of last season's favourite players departed, it could be a very long season if they are not replaced properly.

Even after two years of fantastic FA Cup runs, with Brentford reaching the fifth round twice, it seems as though the club's cash strapped state continues to the detriment of their ability to perform well. The club does not look as though they will get out of this financial strife unless they gain promotion and continue their good runs in cup competition. Even that may not be enough to stop Brentford from eventually going bankrupt. Unless a certain Chelsea owner wants to invest in another London club the financial situation of the Bees does not look to change any time soon - and I see that as a committed, saddened fan..