The 3 key points that are quite clear from the Report are:
1. “The Brentford Model”
The model of bringing in quality players, developing them and selling them on for handsome profits continues to be successful. Indeed, the profit on player sales of £14.1m was more than the clubs turnover – total income from Ticket sales, TV money, commercial income, etc. – and enabled the club to keep operating losses to a manageable level – a loss of £4.4m. Interestingly Turnover remained unchanged at £12.7m (although, within that number, Ticketing was down from £3.5m to £3.1m).
The club’s accounts show that this “player trading” is essential to allowing Brentford to be competitive in the Championship (and hopefully push for the Premier League). The move to the new stadium for the 2020/21 Season should help but it is likely that continued success of the “Brentford Model” will be needed to keep the club sustainable (this all changes if/when we reach the Premier League of course!!). The accounts covering the current year/season will undoubtedly show further success in Player Trading and, after much initial doubt, pundits and the media alike are finally beginning to recognise the “Brentford Model” – a model that has allowed Brentford to compete with clubs on much bigger budgets and be acclaimed for our attractive style of play.
2. “A debt of gratitude”
It may well be stating the obvious (yet, incredibly, some fans still harbour suspicions) but Brentford Football Club and us, the supporters, can be hugely grateful to Club owner, Matthew Benham, for his investment in the Club. The Accounts show that Matthew’s total financial commitment to the Club at 30th June 2018 was £113.9m!! Without this investment we would not now be looking forward to our new stadium and very unlikely that we would be playing at this level.
3. Well managed
Brentford FC continues to operate well within FFP (Financial Fair Play) Regulations, largely thanks to the successful Player Trading (including shrewd sell on clauses on the players we sell). The importance of this cannot be underestimated with many Championship clubs in breach, or rumoured to be in danger of breaching, FFP (with the impact of any subsequent penalties imposed) and the ongoing sorry saga at Bolton Wanderers.
So, what else did the Report say? The first three pages of the Report are the Chairman’s statement, of which only two short paragraphs refer specifically to the Finances, is justifiably upbeat and covers a review of the 2017/18 season – our fourth consecutive top ten finish in the championship, an End of Season and New Season Update, and the Brentford Community Stadium (where work commenced one year ago!)
Cliff Crown’s statement highlights that a year is a long time in football – the sale of the Birmingham 3, Egan, Josefzoon and Woods, bringing in Marcondes, Konsa, Jeanvier, Benrahma and the return of Moses Odubajo. All deals yet more good business conducted by the Bees! There were also wholesale changes in the Management Team, the departure of the CEO and the sad loss of Technical Director Rob Rowan. The tragic loss of Rob at the very young age of 28 was felt by all at the Club and seemed to impact results on the pitch. However his passing will undoubtedly have been felt most by his family.
This is followed by a one page Strategic Report (signed by Cliff on behalf of the Board) which gives the Club’s strategy as being “to continue to improve the quality of football, to engage with the local community and become a sustainable organisation through success on and off the pitch.” It also highlights that football is a risky business and gives 5 key risks which include:
- Impact of attendance levels.
Attendances were up by 1% in 2017/18 at 10,581 but, given the sequence of top 10 finishes, attractive style of play and games against big clubs/attractive opposition and derby matches against Fulham and QPR, I’m sure will be disappointing to fans and club alike. A failure of marketing?
- Rules and regulations, particularly FFP
For me, this is also a huge opportunity IF we can continue our success with Player Trading as a large number of our competitors are clearly struggling in this area.
- Reliance upon finance from the owner
We’re all enjoying the fruits of the “Benham years” and long may that continue, but the club must get to a position where it is sustainable without his generosity. If we don’t already have one, the Club should have a plan for post MB, whenever that may be.
Finally, back to the Chairman’s Statement. Cliff’s conclusion affirms that the club’s ambitions are aligned to build in our attempt to finish in the top six and ultimately promotion. That has escaped us for this Season and we now cannot achieve last season’s tally of 69 points. The Club is in good health financially and we can look forward to our final season at Griffin Park with some anticipation and excitement!