MATTHEW BENHAM’S 2012 LETTER TO BEES UNITED MEMBERS

MATTHEW BENHAM’S 2012 LETTER TO BEES UNITED MEMBERS

To: Directors, Brentford Football Community Society Limited. 

Date: 24 May 2012 

I am writing to provide you some comfort in relation to my intentions as regards my financial commitment to the club, in the context of the proposed “acceleration” of the end of the current arrangements with Bees United. 

I have over a period of several years funded the club to a substantial degree. Initially this investment was with me making no input as to how my investment was spent, and latterly this changed when the partnership with Bees United was implemented – I took operational control of the club. 

Whenever a drawdown request has been made, the applicable funds have been provided promptly throughout my involvement with the club. The club directors, including those nominees of BFCS have no reason to believe that I will not continue funding the club should I assume a majority shareholding in the club. 

Whilst it is unfortunately not possible for any of us to read the future with certainty, I can confirm that my proposed aggregate commitment to the club for the 2012-13 season and 2013-14 season (if that budget is set at the time at a similar level to the draft budget currently under consideration by the club’s directors) would represent less than 20% of my current net worth. 

..

I can confirm that I have no plans to cut spending on the club on the basis of my current financial position, though for clarity, I do already have the right to vary the enhanced funding that I currently provide to the club. I have no intention to “overstretch” myself financially in the funding of the club. 

..

My commitment to the club is a serious one. In exercising the option, I would be capitalising several million pounds worth of loans which were made interest free to the club. I have every incentive to make sure the club is looked after properly, and I reiterate my comfort in BU retaining a golden share in relation to the club stadium. However, as majority shareholders it is for you to make the best decision you can in the interests of Brentford FC. 

It would be nice to be able to “guarantee” the club’s future in all circumstances following any acquisition by me of a majority shareholding. Unfortunately life is too unpredictable for that. 

You should be aware then that I cannot guarantee that I will always remain wealthy enough to provide support for the club, and so I cannot provide contractually binding guarantees of spend in specific circumstances, though I hope I have demonstrated by my actions during the last few years when I have had operational control of the club that I have the best interests of the club at heart. 

I also have no reason to believe that my financial status is about to change materially in a manner which would affect my ability to continue to support the club financially. If I do not take a majority shareholding, then the consequences would, I am convinced, be significant for the club with almost immediate effect. 

I do not claim to be experienced at the day to day running of a football club, and therefore I will continue to rely on the guidance and support of the club board in managing the financial investments I am making with the correct balance of looking after the club’s short and long term future.

..

Though the legally binding arrangement will of course be set out in an amended shareholders’ agreement in respect of the club, nothing in this letter is intended to, nor shall it be, legally binding on me or my estate. However, I hope this explanation of my perspective on the proposed arrangements is helpful in you seeing the “whites of my eyes”, and of course I’m happy to answer any specific questions you may have – perhaps channelled through Dave Merritt might be a convenient way. 

With kind regards,

Matthew Benahm 

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EVERTON 2 BRENTFORD 3

EVERTON 2 BRENTFORD 3

Ever experienced one of those days when nothing goes right? Well, Everton has. At Goodison Park for all of the first 18 minutes the home side looked like spanking a bemused Brentford side. They took the lead after just ten of those and must have felt all was well with the world. And then the sky fell in.

Having made considerable progress in avoiding relegation under the tutelage of recently appointed manager Frank Lampard, the sweetly-nicknamed Toffees were favourites with the bookies to send the Bees back to London with nothing to show for their trip other than a collection of might-have-beens. 

With a 1-0 defeat at the Community Stadium last November to avenge, they set about the Bees in workmanlike fashion. And they forged their way ahead until a long-range punt born of necessity rather than creative thinking saw 19-year-old centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite chasing a rampaging Ivan Toney and, despairing of ever catching him, clattered him to the ground from behind. The resultant free kick came to nothing, but by then Braithwaite had departed with a red card for company, one of 103 collected by Everton in their long history.

The shape of the game changed from there on, with a reorganised Everton setting about hanging on to the lead established when Dominic Calvert-Lewin finished an Anthony Gordon free kick with a touch as light as a feather duster.   

The Bees drew level thanks to Everton full back Seamus Coleman’s head, which sportingly got in the way to divert a Yoane Wissa cross past Jordan Pickford. But soon the home side were again in front, thanks on this occasion to Mads Bech Sørensen, who was having a torrid time trying to contain the home side’s refusal to mind their own business and unwisely toppled the Brazilian Richarlison in the penalty area.

Richarlison, having converted the resultant penalty, bit the dust again shortly afterwards and was ignored by everyone concerned other than Christian Eriksen, who did the very decent thing of trotting over to the striker to see if all was well. It was, in a manner of speaking.

Bech Sørensen was replaced by Thomas Frank at the interval as the coach shuffled his side to inject speed by dispensing with much of the defence and sending extra midfielders Josh Dasilva and Vitaly Janelt into the fray. Smart move: with about half-an-hour remaining an Eriksen corner homed in on a crowded goalmouth, only to be intercepted by Wissa’s head and from a narrow angle found its home inside the far post.

And, blow me, two minutes later Brentford were in front, a fine Matthias Jensen cross being met by an airborne Rico Henry to guide it out of Pickford’s reach.  

Those kind-hearted among the TV audience could not help but feel sympathy for an indefatigable Everton side, especially when, with two minutes of normal time left to play, late substitute Soloman Rondón felled Henry with a tackle that had foul writ large over it to leave only nine dejected souls trooping from the pitch.

The afternoon ended with Brentford in eleventh place in the Premier league table, with only one game remaining of their extraordinary season and Everton still in search of the three points that might – no guarantees, mind – keep them in the Premier League. 

‘Crazy game’, was Thomas Frank’s verdict. ‘We wuz robbed,’ complained Lampard, who thought his side should have been awarded a penalty for some shirt-pulling in the box just before the sending off. Perhaps the Bees can help them out by snaffling the points themselves when they meet up with the Toffees’ relegation rivals Leeds United at the Community Stadium next Sunday

Everton: Pickford; Coleman (substitute Rondón 84), Branthwaite, Holgate; Iwobi, Doucouré, André Gomes (Kenny 72), Mykolenko; Gordon (Gray 72), Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer (Dasilva 59), Jansson, Bech Sørensen (Janelt 45), Henry; Jensen, Nørgaard, Eriksen; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa (Roerslev 75). 

This report first appeared on the Chiswick Calendar website

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BRENTFORD 1 LEEDS UNITED 2

BRENTFORD 1 LEEDS UNITED 2

After the Lord Mayor’s show of a season comes the dustcart of a finale. Such a shame, even if the thousands of loyal Brentford fans lingered in the Community Stadium to say thanks to the manager and team that delivered so many thrills as they became a footballing force in the Premier League, while the sides that had accompanied them from the Championship disappeared back from whence they came. 

For all that, the last game of the season was a damp squib that failed to ignite; a pedestrian contest in which the Bees should have sent lacklustre Leeds also into the league below.

They failed to do so in what once was typical Brentford style – haphazard and error-strewn, a difficult mountain climb that should have been a walk in the park. Chances were created and wasted, sporadic Leeds attacks shown far too much respect and, worst of all, the home side finished with only nine players on the pitch.

 Is this too harsh a verdict? Let me recall the painful progress of Thomas Frank and his squad and then explain it without resorting to the cliche, ‘That’s football’.

Early on, Brentford held the upper hand and looked likely to score, even if Bryan Mbeumo had once again forgotten his shooting boots. What a fine and valuable player he is, but something happens when he finds himself in prime position; namely, he loses his sense of direction.

The large and vocally supportive contingent from Yorkshire urged on their injury- decimated team and, to everyone’s surprise – possibly including many of team – they appeared to go ahead, with striker Joe Gelhardt firing a shot past David Raya. VAR cut short the resultant elation by declaring the effort offside and Leeds’ head coach, Jesse Marsch, winner of the Most Animated Manager of the Year award, resumed his technical area (and nearby) aerobics. 

The excitement subsided and the rest of the first half consisted of random long-range shots from Leeds and some thoughtful, attractive but mostly ineffectual football from the Bees. But surely the home side would up their game in the second period? Well, no…

On 56 minutes lively forward Raphinha careered into the penalty area and was brought down by a resourceful but illegal clobbering from David Raya. Raya. whose inadequate clearance had put him in the pickle to begin with, did his best to unnerve the Brazilian with goal-line calisthenics, but the penalty whistled into the net as the keeper took off in the wrong direction.  

Thomas Frank then proceeded to introduce a trio of substitutes, with Josh Dasilva, Sergi Canós and Shandon Baptiste arriving in stages to provide fresh legs but no noticeable cutting edge. Until, that is, with ten minutes left to play a fine cross from Yoane Wissa was met by Canós’s equally excellent header, which flew wide of goalkeeper Illan Meslier. 

With Kristoffer Ajer having limped off with a leg injury, Brentford were reduced to ten men, the maximum number of subs having been already reached. But worse was yet to come. 

Canós earned a first warning because of the extravagant celebration of his goal and within two more minutes collected a second for a clumsy foul on Raphinha. Off he marched, nursing the remarkable record of having scored in both Brentford’s first and last games of the season and squeezing a red card into the record books too. 

Nine men standing and ten minutes left plus subsequently the referee’s award of five extra minutes. They battled valiantly and Leeds shot poorly before, until with inside a minute remaining Jack Harrison fired in a shot that hugged the ground from the edge of the penalty to take a slight deflection and find the back of Raya’s net.

There was just one kick, to restart the game, remaining. The tension that had marred the performances of both sides evaporated. The Leeds’ squad and their manager gathered in the corner of the visitors’ enclave to make whoopee. 

Only when they eventually dispersed did Frank and the injury-listed Christian Nørgaard and his family lead a Brentford procession around the pitch that included many small children of the players, running and handholding and laughing in the late afternoon sunshine. Thousands of home fans were still there, to sing and dance as if in a carnival.

I turned, as always, to seek the opinion of the game from my mate Charlie, but noticed that his cheeks were damp as he stared at this extraordinary sight.

‘What a wonderful season,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer (injured 77), Jansson, Bech Sørensen (substitute Baptiste 71), Henry (Canós 63); Jensen (Dasilva 58), Janelt, Eriksen; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa. 

Leeds United: Meslier; Koch, Llorente, Cooper, Firpo; Raphinha, Greenwood (Klich 85), Phillips, Harrison; Rodrigo; Gelhardt (Struijk). 

This report first appeared on the Chiswick Calendar website

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BRENTFORD 3 SOUTHAMPTON 0

BRENTFORD 3 SOUTHAMPTON 0

What a wonderful season this has turned out to be. Who could have predicted that a bus stop in Hounslow would emerge as major players and acknowledged supreme entertainers in one of the toughest football competitions in the world?

Witness the latest chapter in a remarkable story: another superlative performance by Brentford as the Saints failed to go marching in. 

Southampton beat them 4-1 at home earlier in the year, but this team was one that couldn’t find its way through a resolute Bees’ defence, even one depleted by the absence of the injured Ethan Pinnock. And it was only six days since Manchester United had sent Brentford home from Old Trafford nursing a 0-3 defeat.

No wonder the home crowd were so reluctant to leave the Community Stadium as the team trouped from the pitch after their familiar lap of honour to leave thousands still dancing on the terraces and in the stands.

With just two matches still to play in this first, accomplished Premier League season, the Bees regained twelfth place in the table to put eleven points between them and the relegation box. The fact that Norwich City and Watford – the two sides automatically promoted at the end of last season – were confirmed as returning immediately to the Championship, proved just how far play-off-winners Brentford have come in their first top-tier outing since 1947.

Okay, games in hand by those jostling for position below means that occupying a relatively lofty position may not last. But, hey, hands up any fan who would not have grabbed with both hands a near-mid table place if offered it back in August of last year.

Southampton started well, with slick passing at speed that would have caused Brentford to scratch their heads had they not been busy trying to get out of their own half. It didn’t last long, although David Raya was almost caught napping when attempting to clear the ball while harassed by striker Adam Armstrong.

Then all genuine attacking action switched to focus on visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster, all 6ft 7ins of him. Matthias Jensen went close, Yoane Wissa shot too near the keeper after a superb Ivan Toney head-flick feed, and Christian Eriksen failed to convert a couple of chances, proving that this playmaster does not always display finishing finesse.

No matter. An explosive Brentford burst after 12 minutes saw an Eriksen’s corner chipped back into the goalmouth by Toney for Pontus Jansson to bundle it into goal. The skipper scored his first Premier League goal four games ago – looks like he’s in danger of making a habit of it. 

Skip now to little more than a minute later when Eriksen was brought down midway inside the Southampton half and referee Michael Salisbury showed commendable judgement in recognising Brentford’s advantage as Wissa collected the loose ball and sprinted away to beat Forster with a measured pass that even his great reach couldn’t cope with.

Adam Armstrong managed to get the ball past Raya just before the interval, only to be judged offside. Otherwise, the pattern remained the same, Brentford buzzing threateningly – a Toney shot rebounded, only for Bryan Mbeumo to blast it skyward – while the Saints, relying on two wings and probably a prayer, added several long shots to their repertoire to not avail.

Just under the half-hour of the second period saw a melee in the visitors’ goalmouth when several Bees tried to force the ball home, a pinball episode ended by Jensen firing over. No matter; a slightly shorter repeat performance saw Kristoffer Ajer appear somewhat surprisingly in the midst of it all to sidestep a tackle and then neatly nutmeg Forster for his first Brentford goal.

Game over, really, although Thomas Frank’s decision to substitute 19-year-old forward Nathan Young-Coombes for his first-team debut just a few minutes before the end was good for his morale and hopefully for Brentford’s future.    

The entertainment mentioned earlier this review was on this occasion provided by the appearance in the main stand of former player and broadcaster Chris Kamara, ex-club chairman (and restaurateur) Dan Tana, and Bradley Walsh, one-time on the playing staff but now a popular TV host and actor, dapper in suit and tie.

Nice to see the celebs turning out, I murmured to my mate Charlie.

‘What celebs?’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Bech Sørensen, Henry; Jensen (substitute Young-Coombes 87), Nørgaard, Eriksen; Mbeumo (Baptiste 81), Toney, Wissa (Dasilva 68). 

Southampton: Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud; S Armstrong, (Romeu 83), Ward-Prowse; Diallo (Elyounoussi 64); Redmond, A Armstrong, Broja.

This report appeared first on the Chiswick Calendar website

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THE I992 BEES ARE COMING BACK

THE I992 BEES ARE COMING BACK

On Saturday 7th May 2022, as the Bees take on Southampton and we hopefully get closer to confirming our place  in the Premier League next season, there’s a chance to remember a landmark day 30 years ago. It seems a world away but is just like yesterday to one squad of Bees players. On 2nd May 1992  the score in League Division Three was Peterborough United 0 Brentford 1 which made the Bees Champions of the Division and promoted them to Division Two (now the EFL Championship). One of the best bits of a memorable day was that everybody went back to Griffin Park afterwards for a right old party.

The whole thing  was captured in a video of the team being announced one-by-one as they came into the Braemar Road stand to greet the fans on the Griffin Park pitch. Marcus Gayle, now the club’s Ambassador, in a natty red and white cap,Gary Blissett with a child in either arm and then the triumphant manager Phil Holder. No fewer than seven of his team had joined the Club at youth team level. The video is here,spool down to 45 minutes in. It is well worth a look.

Members of that squad have stayed in touch over the 30 years but they’ve never got together for a full reunion. Until now. At half-time in the Southampton game please stay in your place to salute:

 

Marcus Gayle        

 

Paul Buckle           

 

Dean Holdsworth  

 

Phil Holder            

 

Terry Evans          

 

Graham Pearce (reserve team coach)

 

Graham Benstead

 

Brian Statham      

 

Keith Millen        

 

Bob Booker      

and hopefully also, Jamie Bates and Neil Smillie.

Mike Sullivan, who looks after Brentford’s Legends at every home game, is organising it all. Special thanks to him. Some ex-players will be travelling long distances, Paul Buckle, the subject of a special BU profile earlier this season, is travelling from California. Marcus Gayle will be coming all the way from his usual seat in the South Stand. Afterwards there is the chance that a glass or two will be taken at a local hostelry as Brentford’s class of 92 complete a day to remember.

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WHAT WAS VITALY DOING IN  GOAL?

WHAT WAS VITALY DOING IN GOAL?

Unfortunate with injury, short on game time, an exceptional talent. Three of the most common ways VfL Bochum fans described their former player Vitaly Janelt’s time at the club. Rarely are players who have not come through the club’s esteemed academy so well regarded amongst the fan base, but a feeling of what could have been remains. With the likes of Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gungadon and Joel Matip, high standards are set for Bochum’s young talents.

Janelt arrived at the club on an 18-month loan in 2017 from RB Leipzig before making his move permanent the season after. Despite impressing early on for the club’s reserve side, his first few seasons at Bochum were hampered with injury. He became a more prominent fixture in the first team during the 2019-20 season, but despite consistent performances and a few goals along the way, club stalwart and captain Anthony Losilla and experienced midfielder Robert Tesche kept Janelt on the bench.

“I always liked Vita. He was a strong player, a leader on the pitch and scored some very crucial goals for us”, said Jakob, a season ticket holder at Bochum’s 27,599 capacity VONOVIA Ruhrstadion. “The problem was that he played in a very unstable time in Bochum. There were a lot of different managers playing styles and for him in particular some unusual positions. He was used as a left back and a winger at some times”, he added.

Picture Credit: Marc Niemeyer

To say that it was a turbulent time in the managerial department would be an understatement. Gertjan Verbeek brought him to the club but was dismissed seven months into Janelt’s time in North Rhine Westphalia. Verbeek was replaced with Ismail Atalan, which saw Janelt’s opportunities become even more scarce. Atalan was sacked after 10 games in charge, and the lack of game time continued under Jens Rasiejewski, who made him an unused substitute in 10 of his 11 games. Rasiejewski was dismissed in February 2019, and after overcoming injury problems, new manager Robin Dutt gave Janelt more opportunities.

Club photographer Tim Kramer got to know Janelt well during Vitaly’s three years at the club. “I was quite sad when he left because Vita is an incredible person. From his time here in Bochum we all knew he is a very special player who will always have a connection with the club”, he said.

The 2019-20 season provided some of the more memorable moments of Janelt in a Bochum shirt. Having played at left back and left wing, alongside his usual central defensive midfield role, he showed the full extent of his versatility when he went in goal after Manuel Reimann was sent off against Arminia Bielefeld. He was unable to keep a clean sheet as Fabian Klos scored in the third minute of stoppage time to secure a 2-0 win. 

The following month, however, Janelt was the hero and kick-started VfL’s rise. Described as “one of the finest moments” of his career, an injury time header gave Bochum all three points on the road and helped turn around a troubled outfit. “In Dresden he scored an incredibly important goal. This is part of why he is very popular with many Bochum fans, but he also didn’t really get enough game time”, added Kramer.

With Losilla and Tesche permanent fixtures in the side, Janelt struggled to make it off the bench. “When Vita left Bochum, I was really sad. His talent was never disputed, but he often didn’t get it on the pitch or played in the wrong positions (often left back). Besides, the other two players in his position are over 30 and we definitely could have used him more and developed him ourselves”, said Philipp Schüssler.

When leaving the club in 2020 for a reported £540,000, few fans would have expected him to now be worth just over £10m. “Brentford got an outstanding deal for him. I believe the transfer fee paid has since increased by a factor of 10. If he becomes a player for the German national team, his value will go even higher. If Vita stays at Brentford, you have a super defensive midfielder. If he leaves, you have turned the transfer fee into an insane financial gain”, Schüssler added.

Despite the huge increase in value, at the time, few Bochum fans questioned the deal at the time. “A lot of VfL fans thought it was a good deal for the club because Vita wasn’t always a starter, and his contract was about to expire. I still thought that he had some room to grow as a player and that we would miss him. But the transfer made sense for him and as a VfL fan you could understand why he wanted to try something new. You have to give a lot of credit to the Brentford scouting department because Vita wasn’t a standout player in the 2. Bundesliga. He had weaknesses in his game and under a lot of Bochum coaches he never became an important starter”, said ​​Fabrice Czaja, a 28-year-old Bochum fan.

Picture Credit: Tim Kramer

Czaja has even been surprised with his performances in the Premier League. “I knew that his style of play would suit English football better than German, but from being a substitute at Bochum in the 2. Bundesliga to be watched by Hansi Flick as a starter in the Premier League is completely crazy. I really like Vita and I am happy for him, but it has come as a slight shock. An important question for us to ask is if Bochum made a mistake. I really hope that there is a sell-on clause written into his contract for Bochum if Brentford were to sell him”, he said.

His expiring contract, and financial worries posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps helped Brentford secure the deal. “I was disappointed because I knew he was a good player, and he was very well integrated into the team. But on the other hand, he wasn’t starting, and we got some money for him, which for a club of our size is always important. All in all, I think both sides profited, but it was still bittersweet”, said Jakob.

Photo Credit: VfL Bochum 1848

His popularity was often mentioned when researching for this article. Known for his impressive skills at FIFA on the PlayStation, Janelt was deeply missed when he departed for England.

Having gone their separate ways, the 2020-21 season coincidentally worked out well for VfL Bochum 1848 and Brentford. Both teams were promoted within a week of each other, with VfL on May 23rd and Brentford 29th. Despite not being there in person, Janelt managed to join in the celebrations from afar. “Vitali was an incredibly popular member of the dressing room when he was here. I remember when we went up shortly afterwards in the dressing room the lads called Vitali on FaceTime and celebrated together. It coincided well with his promotion too, as they went up the week later. There were some really nice photos of the lads all celebrating together on the phone. He is firmly a part of us here and is fondly thought of”, club photographer Tim Kramer remembers.

Fans note their pride when talking about Janelt’s success in the Premier League, most notably scoring a brace at Stamford Bridge. In addition to Bochum fans, his performances have caught the attention of Hansi Flick, the German national team manager. Janelt and Flick met when Brentford played Arsenal in February. With Bernd Leno on the bench, it was Janelt who the former Bayern Munich manager had come to watch.

Bochum fans would be immensely proud if Janelt were to be called up to Die Mannschaft, but there are some notable former Bochum academy players in front of him. “Janelt has come through the youth age groups with the German national team”, Kramer explains. “But in truth it’s a very tough position to establish yourself in. With Goretzka and Gündogan in front of you it’s a hard one for him. That’s not forgetting Kimmich. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed and wish him all the best”, Kramer added.

Bochum look set to remain in the Bundesliga having returned after an 11-year absence. They tweet and have a website in English. Search for @VfLBochum1848_EN on twitter for more. 

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