The last few months have been eventful for Bees United, the supporters trust. The appointment to the Brentford FC Board of two new supporter directors together with the assumption of executive control by supporter representatives, followed by the appointment of Doug White to drive the new stadium development plans forward, have placed the destiny of the club firmly in supporters' hands.
The financial position of the club remains tenuous having reached the limit of the bank overdraft facility last season. In May, an agreement was reached with Ron Noades' company, Altonwood, to leave in place bank guarantees on the £4.5 m bank overdraft facility. These guarantees allow the club to keep its interest costs down to around 5.5% currently as against the 8% or so together with debt repayment demands that we would be facing without them. Bees United has secured a two year option to acquire Altonwood's interest in the club subject to releasing the bank guarantees.
The Club's budget for 2003/2004 has of necessity been a very tight one involving relatively modest increases in ticket prices and a targeted average gate of circa 5500.
The average gate is based around the average achieved over the last 10 seasons with a high of 6714 in 2001/02 and a low of 4645 in 2000/2001.
A drop in the average gate of 500 costs the club about £100,000 net of VAT in lost revenue. Hence, a poor year with an average gate of 4500 would result in a £200,000 shortfall in revenue wiping out any extra income generated from price increases. Conversely, a good year with an average gate of 6500 brings in an extra £200,000 or so.
The budget for this season, based on an average gate of 5500, has a cash deficit of £340,000. Bees United is providing loans to the Club totalling £115,000 for this season on top of the £125,000 of funds that were required last season. Lifeline have committed to funding much needed improvements to Stripes and other hospitality areas throughout the club. A further £225,000 or more depending on attendances will be needed to see the club through this season.
This season is a crucial one for everyone. It is now or never if we are going to consolidate the achievements to date and secure once and for all, a future for Brentford Football Club.
We have much to be optimistic about. The Club has a squad of talented players with great potential, many thrown into the fray and taking on responsibility, early in their careers. The Club's Centre of Excellence regularly brings through first team players from the youth ranks and we have a football in the community program, second to none.
The chairman and board of directors are committed to exercising the financial discipline necessary to put the club back on a sure footing. They are actively engaged in developing plans to improve the facilities at Griffin Park to provide much needed additional revenues for next season while continuing to progress the ambitious plans for a new stadium.
We, the supporters have a vital part to play, in buying time for the team to develop to its full potential and for the board to get the necessary improvements to facilities in place. Crucially, stabilising the financial position will afford the supporters trust the opportunity of negotiating a deal to exercise the option for control of the club and moving forward to better times.
Bees United's priority this season will continue to centre on fundraising and promoting the club. All Brentford supporters can play a part, whether it is cheering on the team (win, lose or draw), going to Stripes before and after the game, bringing a friend, helping with poster and leaflet distributions to promote the club, manning BIAS roadshows, bucket collections, or contributing by standing order.
If you would like more information on how you can help, please contact Bees United on 0845 166 7222 or pick up details from information points around the ground and outside the Griffin Pub.