Dear Phil, Cliff, Rasmus, Mark, Dean and BIAS…..

6 Sep

Wednesday morning. The internationals are done. The dust has settled on a transfer window that saw Brentford lose several B team players aswell as selling three of our crown jewels to Birmingham City. Likewise, picking up the likes of Neal Maupay, Kamo, Ollie Watkins and Henrik Dalsgaard (amongst others) earlier in the summer. We are all now well acclimatised to the fact that Lionel Road plans have been changed. Having had time to consider it all, are you happy with it all? Are Brentford well placed for the future? Is there anything you’d like to know ?

Well, as is now traditional, the club have announced a fan forum will take place this Thursday in The Hive from 7.00pm – 8.30pm. This is your chance to put any questions to a panel consisting of : Chairman Cliff Crown, Co-Directors of Football Phil Giles and Rasmus Ankersen, Chief Executive Mark Devlin and Head Coach Dean Smith.

fans forum panel

The forum has always had a strong panel

However much one can question some of the short term communication methods of the club (and I have previously), there’s no denial that the willingness to subsequently talk to supporters is something that the club embrace. This event has been called at fairly short notice but given the recent flurry of news then no bad thing. As anybody who attended the recent Lionel Road meeting would testify, you may not like everything you hear but you will be given a frank and open assessment of where we are. More importantly to many (myself included), some rationale as to why the club is making the decisions it does.

Personally, I’ve written two quite emotional columns in the last week. The first, in the direct aftermath of the transfer window closing. The second, a few days later once the video from Phil Giles had been released. Between them, they generated over 80 responses on the Last Word blog site alone. There were many more on Twitter and Facebook. That’s probably more in the last five days than the total received in the last five months.

This isn’t me blowing my own trumpet. Far from it. At the end of the day (Clive) I’m just the numpty on the terrace who shouts my mouth off every now and then. Many could relate to what I was saying. Some were scornful. Others read what they wanted to see rather than what had actually been written. All that is fine and fair. Opinion is a wonderful thing.

However, what it does show is how much Brentford fans care when something does happen that impacts us. That we all love this club – whether we feel it is being unjustly criticised or making decisions that, on the surface, seem contrary to what we have been told before or our own footballing progression.


Jota. It really happened – and fans have been quick to debate

I’ll stick in the usual caveats at this point. That we should never, ever forget rattling buckets. That Matthew Benham has made huge and unprecedented investment in this club. That we all chose to surrender our BU shares in the face of financial oblivion and without that we’d likely have folded.  That we can’t compete financially with the vast majority of our Championship rivals. That it has been made clear Brentford are a selling club and this is our model.

Yet that doesn’t deny anybody the right to ask questions. To look at understanding things which, on the surface, seem at odds with how we see other clubs operate. To seek clarification from our club hierarchy as to things they may have previously said.

And the fact the people closest to Matthew are prepared to put themselves in the firing line is something we should only applaud. The forum has always been a great event although, sadly, one I’m unable to attend this time around due to a longstanding prior commitment that I’ve been unable to weasel out of at this late stage.

Fortunately, the option to position questions in advance is there. If not through official channels (currently, although they do always open this up on the night)  then BIAS are certainly collating these in advance on behalf of fans. As such, if anyone from the club or BIAS is reading then here are a few from myself. If any could be answered that would be hugely appreciated.

1:Norwich City are 4/5 on to beat Birmingham City this weekend (price supplied by club sponsor LeoVegas). Will any of the panel be placing a bet?

2: It is not an option to not be in the Premier League. It has to happen in the next three years…. At the moment there is no Plan B. We’ll be in the Premier League in three years.

Not my words but those of Rasmus Ankersen at the September 2015 forum. That time comes to an end this season. Is it a position the panel stand by or one that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, we may wish to reconsider?

3: Is there now a Plan B ?

4: “The goal is to get stronger after each transfer window.

Not my words but those of Rasmus Ankersen at the September 2015 forum. Whilst we have undoubtedly invested in potential the new signings are all that – new.  To lose three such influential and settled players would be a huge blow . Do we honestly feel that the squad is currently stronger ?

5: How is the money spent? The fees for Jota, Hogan, Andre, Maxime and Harlee are believed to be well over £33m. How is this split between the future of the club, paying back Matthew the vast amounts he has invested and ongoing costs?

6: Why don’t the club disclose fees? Instead fans are left (in Phil’s words) ‘deflated’ whilst we have to rely on rumour, gossip and potentially incorrect data. If nothing else, it might give fans a clearer idea of how well we are doing in terms of transfer activity

7: ”Strategically it’s the ideal way to do it. Sell them late and buy them early.”  Not my words but those of Phil Giles. That’s a massive gamble if the appropriate offers don’t come in at the 11th hour. Are we only selling at the end of the window on purpose? Did realistic offers for Max, Harlee, Jota and Scott Hogan come in earlier?

8: Are the panel fans of the current transfer window system?

9: Selling three of our best players to one Championship rival. Was that a strategic decision? Or did leaving things late leave us no choice?

10: Back in September 2015 you sat here and poured forth about how wonderful Marinus was. A head coach who had picked up five points from his first five games. Just a few days later he was gone. Dean’s team currently have two points from our first five games. How do you compare the respective starts and is there any danger of another change ? (for the record, I hope not).

Here’s to this Thursday. For those of you who can make it then enjoy. And for those who can’t, please don’t forget to tweet BIAS should there be anything you wish to ask.

Cliff, Mark, Rasmus, Phil and Dean. Thank you.

Nick Bruzon


12 Responses to “Dear Phil, Cliff, Rasmus, Mark, Dean and BIAS…..”

  1. Rob September 6, 2017 at 6:47 am #

    Not surprised you’re ducking out on thursday given Q10!! For the record though it was Marinus not Rasmus.
    All fair questions. I’d also like to know forecasts on how much more competitive moving to a completed LR will make us in paying bigger wages and therefore keeping hold of some of our talent (not on twitter).

  2. HeryBee September 6, 2017 at 7:48 am #

    Well, the dust is settling, at last, something not many are expressing, outside of the emotion, is what I believe is the real culprit here, the closing date of the transfer window. We all loved and admired, in different ways, the 3 departed players, but in my humble opinion, and that’s all we express here, it’s about the timing, over which we currently have no control.

    Perhaps the transfer window should open on the day after the last match of the season and close 2 days before the new season’s first match. I appreciate that there are different Championship/Prem start dates, but the FA/FL need to take action in everyone’s interests, no matter whether you are a ‘big/rich’ club or not. Clearly the departure of Colin/Dean and Jota was a disappointment, but such is life, it’s always going to happen to The Bees, in my (near) 50 years of supporting Brentford, we have lost so many talented players, but never have we had replacements brought in so early.

    I would like to think that BFC are actively supporting the move to altering the transfer window dates, so many season ticket sales and merchandise depend on success, and understandably, any dad must be irritated by, say, purchasing a replica shirt with any of the departed players names on…… I dare to suggest that the emotion and frustration expressed in so many social media platforms would have been lower level if we hadn’t started the season with these guys in the team, only to lose them after a few weeks of the new season.

    So, bring on Villa and Boro, I think we are going to surprise a few more big teams, and let’s face it, we’re overdue against Boro……..

  3. HerzyBee September 6, 2017 at 7:50 am #

    Oops finger trouble, I’m HerzyBee!!!!

  4. tfalbb September 6, 2017 at 11:24 am #

    The answer to question 6 is easy. It’s against Football League rules for clubs to disclose details of transfers. Any you read in the papers are leaks from agents or the players themselves (or suppositions based on prior agent utterings designed to big up the player in the market).
    And I favour a system where the window is only open during June and July. Buying and selling players during the season can be very disruptive.

    • peter lumley September 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

      Glad to read possible reform of the current “transfer window” time table is under discussion. Re the Fans Forum I would like to know if the Board have a PlanB if the club are unfortunate enough to be in League One(instead of the Premiership) when we move to Lionel Road?

  5. Bernard Quackenbush September 6, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Excellent questions Nick

    My own rather trivial question would be…will the seats at Lionel Road have plenty of leg room for us tall people like at Reading & Brighton? I cannot sit in the seats at GP currently without getting chronic back ache and bruised knees.

  6. Tim Rugg September 6, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Are we a stronger club?….most people will read “1st team playing staff” whilst I read “club”. Nothing is more important to real fans than long term security. Ask real AFC Wimbledon fans. I don’t want Premier league status or Cup Finals and end up in League Two or in the Conference five years later. Ask Portsmouth fans. Financial security is the be all and end all for any club’s long term survival. I’ve never known Brentford to be more secure, playing quality football and in the second tier …result!

    Optimistic hopes from staff involved with the club ….I wouldn’t expect anything else from fans forums or otherwise. Rue the day when footballing directors come out and say “I think we’ll have an average season ….possibly even a relagation battle”

    Don’t need a plan B if plan A works (if your not well set up then you need a plan B see Marinus) ….yes there will be blips and hiccups along the way!

    33 million from recent sales means our club holds its own for a couple of years ..without needing anyone including Matthew Benham bailing us out ..and with a new build stadium on the horizon.

    Wake up and smell the coffee alert ….96% of clubs in the Football League and Premiership are selling clubs …and I’m being conservative with the percentage I think it’s higher!

    Selling to any rival club grates with me …but if valuations are met? As I said in a previous post if the three players in question asked to leave at the begining of the summer or end of last season and were told don’t put in a transfer request and we’ll get the best deal for the club then it’s irrelevant who they’re sold to if their valuation is met. When Watkins Maupay and Dalsgard were bought I thought to myself this is a very large, talented squad to keep together and happy. And Dean Smith probably had more difficulties in trying to keep everyone happy when it comes to team selections. We’ve two very good keepers … did they think Bentley was going to do a Moses and be with us one season? One of our two keepers is going to be very unhappy this season barring injury.

    There’s little to discuss at forums etc Brentford are running a very tight steady sustainable ship and anything they don’t want you to know won’t be answered. The only time when forums/questions need to be had and asked and answered is when the club is being done wrong by person(s) …. see a massive previous list of just about all clubs. In Brentford most previous management/owners pre Benham era. (recently Dave Webb/Ron Noades eras)

  7. Jason w September 6, 2017 at 8:18 pm #

    What I like to know ? After selling the idea of a team and squad, that will be challenging the top six to season ticket holders and all bees fans , do they now feel that with the players that have been sold bees season ticket holders and fans a like have been short changed ? And how do brentford sell the club to future players when they can see no long term future. Or are you selling brentford as a stop gap or stepping stone? Because its not what true brentford fans what to see or hear !! Brentford is not a stepping stone to fans.

  8. the ain't September 6, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

    why bovver wid any transfer window!. older fans wil remember dat in de old days players were bought an sold at any time why not restor dis!

    • HerzyBee September 6, 2017 at 11:26 pm #

      Well, not quite anytime, there was a transfer deadline but it was about 6 weeks or so before the end of the season, so Business was always conducted anytime up to the mid-end of March. Either this or transfer anytime? Why not…….

  9. richard September 7, 2017 at 3:49 am #

    Not withstanding the reasons given, I’m still disappointed by the reduction in capacity at Lionel Road to 17500, and note that Villa have just announced that should they return to the premiership they will look to increase VP to 60,000. I feel that 20-25/30,000 should have been our ambition and even at championship level there is & will always be enough “big clubs” together with local derby’s and the odd cup game to meet this capacity on a regular basis.
    Has any thought been given to raising money via sponsorship to contribute to the building? I seem to recall that when the 100 years of Brentford book was being compiled bees supporters contributed donations of 20GBP towards the production costs. Perhaps now for a flat donation of say 100 ( hopefully considered & which I would estimate to be fairly close to the cost price of a seat ) any supporter who wishes to participate would have the opportunity of being part of the construction.

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