MATTHEW BENHAM’S 2012 LETTER TO BEES UNITED MEMBERS

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 | Heritage, In Focus

In May 2012 Matthew Benham wrote to the members of Bees United to help them see 'the whites of my eyes'. The next month members then voted to transfer full control of the club to him.These are some of the main points of his letter,  
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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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