Tag Archives: PR

With a new season upon us, The GPG give genuine cause for reflection.

27 Jul

Welcome back, Brentford fans. Football is almost upon us again and so the time has come to once more start looking at all things Bees related on these pages. Watford visit tomorrow for a friendly and then a week later proceedings kick off in anger (metaphorically speaking) when Rotherham come to Griffin Park. Championship action is back for a fifth successive season. Yet before all that, three things have happened in the last 24 hours that have caused yours truly to take stock and reflect (don’t worry – this isn’t going to be a heavy one). One involves QPR and the other two, our own supporter interaction.

First up, the GPG. Love it or otherwise (and I’ve done both at times), few could deny the hot bed of passion, opinion and supporter interaction that this site is. Like Beesotted, a group that looks to link the fans to the club, canvass opinion and encourage debate. Even if I’m always right and they aren’t.

Equally, and another thing they and Beesotted have in common, they are set ups that have contacts all the way to the top of the club. Previously Billy and Dave have had their own interview with Matthew Benham published on the Beesotted website. Last season, Trevor has had his own Q&A with our owner – led by supporters – appear on the GPG.

So why mention this now given both interviews were long covered off on these pages when they appeared? Put simply, Twitter. More to the point, something I saw on the social media website last night, posted by the GPG:

One of the things that makes this club special is our owner and supporters access to him. Anyone disagree?

There are many things that make this club special. The ongoing efforts to become involved in the local community. The proximity of players to the supporters – both inside Griffin Park aswell as in the streets around the ground. Nobody even blinks when they see one of the first XI en route to a game or the Chairman walking past the pub pre kick off. Likewise, Mr Benham – barring the nod of gratitude, acknowledgment of his presence or just general ’how’s it going‘ chat .  

Look at how exciting the Junior Bees Christmas Party is. The pre-season ‘meet the players’. Peter Gilham doing his thing like nobody else could. Then there’s Griffin Park and her ‘old school’ feel. Our ongoing status as unfancied under-dogs. Our use of social media (now that all that hashtag nonsense has stopped). Our shrewd, shrewd business in the transfer market. Etc etc etc

Griffin Park pre Wolves GP

Griffin Park – one of the many reason we are so special

But Matthew Benham is a class above. We all know how much money he has pumped into Brentford. Quite frankly, he has saved this club. We are now Championship regulars with a new home on the imminent horizon. We have a new structure and a B-team that is fast tracking players into the first XI. We pick up players for (relative) peanuts; we sell them for amounts that are beyond the dreams of avarice.

This isn’t meant as a Benham love-in. More to acknowledge how lucky we are to have a smart owner who has been a fan for close to forty years. A man who is running this club within sustainable means and who, whilst not one for the public eye, still takes time out to interact with fans (those twitter videos or the aforementioned interviews).

So when I saw the GPG post I had to agree. Hear, hear. Well said. There is so much going right at Brentford and it all stems from one man and his vision. His approachability.

This may not always be immediately clear to those of us who are sat outside, looking in. Last year’s summer transfer window and the Birmingham City triple transfer was proof of that. Even then, the pay back in February was just exquisite.

So long, and thanks for all the cash. And the points

Likewise, the understandable interest in Midgetland – not one shared by the majority of us on the terraces where support of a second club is a largely alien concept. Thankfully, that is something which has really been dialled back. The half time ‘lap of honour’ in the Walsall FA Cup debacle the nail in that coffin.

The point of all this? We’ve a fifth season in the Championship approaching. Rotherham are just over a week away and their visit heralds the start of our latest attempt to get us into the Premier League. Brentford, in the Premier League. To those of longer in the tooth it seems an alien concept yet one can only acknowledge that the vision of one man has put us in this position. We are now here by right. No longer plucky under dogs punching above our weight or against the odds. We are here on merit. Who cares if the wider football community still miss this.

And this season, I really think that next step will happen. This is the season that Brentford hit the top six but push on. The season that Brentford finally break that play-off hoodoo. I’d love to hear where Smartodds think we’ll finish. I’d love to hear where Matthew thinks we’ll finish. With Thorne In The Side seemingly on a self-imposed hiatus for now, I’m guessing it is the turn of BIAS for this season’s big Benham interview.

I can’t wait to read this one and see what he thinks will happen. Failing that, how about the Fans’ Forum this September….?   Either way, we’re incredibly lucky to have an owner who cares this much. Who, whilst infrequently, will take the time to interact with the fans in print.

Contrast our owner with the way QPR down the road are run. This afternoon it has been reported that they have agreed a settlement of almost £42m with the EFL after previously breaching FFP rules back in 2013/14. If I recall correctly, clubs were allowed losses of up to £8million that season. QPR ran up a deficit of £9.8million aswell as then seeing owner Tony Fernandes and other shareholders write off an additional £60million loan, deeming it an ‘exceptional item’. As you do.

At the time Fernandes denounced how unfair this all was. His team had been a Premier League club but after employing the likes of Neil Warnock and Harry Redknapp (not for the first time) were relegated (not for the first time).  Yet despite the rules in place they chose to breach them to suit their own situation.

My view has been consistent, that it is very unfair for a club that has been relegated as the wage difference between the Premier League and Championship is impossible. There should be a time period for clubs to rectify their salaries.

 “If we were in the Championship in two years with that wage bill it wouldn’t be right. I’m in favour of FFP but it is unfair for a club coming down.

Ah, diddums. If only we could all take the ‘its not fair’ defence. If only we could conveniently forget the parachute payments that already put clubs coming down into the Championship a huge advantage over the rest.

Welcome to the real world of football. Under Matthew’s stewardship Brentford have been trying to compete within the rules against the likes of over spending QPR and Bournemouth. Of Leeds and Aston Villa. We’ve had to watch for year on year as our best players are sold to balance the books. The likes of Moses Odubajo, Scott Hogan, Andre Gray, Jota, Maxime Colin, number 26 and Stuart Dallas.

How nice would it have been just to spend beyond our means and then moan about the rules. But no, Matthew is all about doing this right and now that chicken has finally come home to roost at Loftus Road. Good.

I’d love to hear what he has to say about that, although I’d imagine he’s too well-mannered to offer anything more than a diplomatic silence.

QPR Loftus Road

QPR – now got what they deserve

And finally, the other piece of supporter interaction outside of Twitter/The GPG.  I’ve this morning sent the summer’s sale proceeds from the Last Word season review e-book to the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust. Downloads on that front have now dried to a trickle and so it seemed a timely juncture. Moreso with the new season approaching.

HUGE thanks to all of those who downloaded a copy. Apologies for even mentioning this (as I’m not one to overly blow the trumpet of charitable good deeds) but given the fact that people have once more been prepared to spend good money on this nonsense, the least I can do is a public acknowledgment of how fantastic our supporters are.

It’s still up there if anybody else wants one. Any further funds received will still go to the BFC CST. For now though, that horse has been well and truly flogged and so that’s me done.

Instead, we’ve the visit of Watford (and hopefully some rain) to look forward to on Saturday. And then, Rotherham await……

Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 09.56.08

Still available to download for your kindle / e-reader

Nick Bruzon

Five days and this is the explanation? It feels a bit ‘villagey’

28 Nov

So as expected by just about everybody, with the Bolton Wanderers game on Monday night and no new head coach in charge (are we waiting for a sacking at Swansea City?), Lee Carsley will start his second stint as caretaker at Brentford. Or, should I say, he “Will continue as head coach”, if you read the official statement.

Despite Lee’s own admission last week when talking to Billy Reeves at BBC Radio London, “That was the last game for myself and Paul today” he finds himself back in charge of Brentford – at least in the short term. And it is a decision which makes absolute sense, given the circumstance, although how we have got there remains what could politely be described as somewhat ‘peculiar’.

The interview with Billy seemed pretty definitive about his own position and forthcoming future, in which Lee went on to add, “I am going to miss all this. It has been a fantastic couple of months”.

And by peculiar, I specifically mean the five days of media and comms radio silence before Phil Giles published his statement yesterday, saying , “In Lee’s last post-match press conference, he discussed the possibility that the Nottingham Forest game would be his last in charge.”

The Possibility? Apologies, but that bears repeating. The..possibility. Seriously. That was the opening gambit. The phrase, “That was my last game” seems like a nailed on statement to me.

Come on. We aren’t a bunch of idiots and all know what we heard. Equally we know that this sort of process can take time and, after the start to the season, every Brentford fan wants the club to get this right. But handling things like this has produced the expected reaction – and by no means directed at Lee who the fans, myself included, are just chuffed to have back in time for (at least) one more game.

Twitter was awash with comments, all of those I saw along very similar lines. And you can ignore social media all you want, but this is the gut reaction of the people coming through the turnstile.

 

And there are plenty more along those lines. The point being that fans didn’t seem overly thrilled at how things had been handled. That said,at least we had the calming influence of the aforementioned Mr. Reeves to add to the mix.

Billy on Lee

 

Let’s be clear, I want to know what as going on as much as the next person. I wrote as much about the current scenario in yesterday’s column. Equally, whilst it may well have been Lee’s intention to step down after the Forest game – something Phil and Rasmus were also expecting – no immediate follow up statement , followed by five days of silence before this latest effort lends an almost ‘villagey’ feel to proceedings.

We’ve not been great at PR for years. Here’s another example. The most frustrating part of this being that it doesn’t even cost anything – just a bit of common sense.

Still, I’m sure this will all sort itself out but it doesn’t half leave a bitter taste in the mouth. That phrase about being able to organise parties and breweries springs to mind.

Things are going great on the pitch. I fully respect Lee’s decision and, indeed, am really pleased he’s agreed to continue in the short term.

Here’s to it all continuing on Monday at Bolton.

Nick Bruzon

 

Crunch. The sound of the PR machine moving in to gear.

3 Oct

A day before our trip to Derby County, co-director of football Rasmus Ankersen has ‘exclusively revealed’ more to Brentford supporters about why Marinus Dijkhuizen was replaced as head coach on Monday morning and, equally, the comments made by short-term replacement Lee Carsley after the defeat to Birmingham City.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the video by now – it’s at the bottom of this article for anybody that hasn’t. Likewise, it has been pretty much paraphrased by the local press – copy, past, no opinion, free column – so I’ll save you trawling through the full re-write in print.

Rasmus reveals 'all' on YouTube

Rasmus reveals ‘all’ on YouTube

However, for me the salient point was more what wasn’t said. Given we’ve had the best part of a week to put some positive spin around the news, following the vacuous statements released when the news first broke, I was hoping for more.

I’m not (totally) stupid. There was no way the club were going to air all their dirty laundry in public (that’s a metaphor, I know that kitman Bob Oteng does an excellent job) but to leave us hanging like this just causes more questions. Indeed, the stage was all set for a big reveal when Chris Wickham cut directly to the chase and asked the obvious question, “Why did we feel a change of head coach was necessary?

Along with admitting the club had made a mistake, Rasmus told him, “There were some fundamental approaches at the training ground that didn’t work to the level we expected…it hasn’t improved to the level we want to. In the end we felt the right decision was to make a change rather than protect something we didn’t really believe was going to work

Although he reinforced this point again, adding, “I completely understand how it looks. It wasn’t a decision based on eight league games but three months of training“, there was no explanation as to what the actual training ground problems were. Further, there was no attempt from Chris to get these answers.

Was it the spate of injuries? Were the players being forced to go on three hours of running around the pitch? Did Marinus not bother turning up? Was it limited to playing football manager on the PC? (crappy stats based joke).

The club have embarked on a new direction, something that was made clear as early as last February. Understandably, it’s has been a tough enough sell to get all the fans to accept this change in approach as it is. Frankly, the model is not one we are used to. So when the approach is deemed not to have worked, to not really elaborate on why is very much a missed opportunity.

Whereas Billy Reeves, the master of gentle probing, would have pushed on here, Chris / Brentford official (he may well have had a line to follow) seemed content with that and moved on to the subject of Lee Carsley. Specifically, his comments on Tuesday where he said he hadn’t put his hand up for the job and didn’t want it permanently

Here, at least, Rasmus told us what we expected to hear, and what should probably have been made clearer on Monday/ explained differently on Tuesday, “We always knew that Lee was not going to be a permanent option. He made that very clear to us when we started talking and we respect that but we feel we have a job to do in the short term and he’s the best man to do that….. In hindsight we could probably have dealt with it a bit better and we always knew Lee wouldn’t be our permanent solution”.

Lee spoke to Beesplayer after the game on Tuesday

Lee spoke to Beesplayer after the game on Tuesday

As I noted last time out, this isn’t a pop at Lee. I stand by that. Things can be taken out of context or said in the heat of the moment. Moreso, by somebody stepping in at the 11th hour. But, equally, we have an experienced backroom staff who, yet again, move with all the speed of Jonathan Douglas (certainly at the end of his time here) tracking back into midfield after a run up pitch.

I really thought we might have learned something from the football village. Likewise, and I need to be clear, I know we aren’t going to reveal everything. Much as I’d love if the club would, I’m just not that naïve. But surely there has to be a happy medium?

Even though Rasmus did go on to apologise to the fans and admit we should have handled things differently. I just don’t know why we failed to do so. It’s not hard. Surely?

The ironic thing is that we’ve been so good at straight talking in the past. The fans’ forums in particular being a place where questions have been answered to a surprisingly in depth, and honest, level. As such, to remove Marinus just three days after he and Rasmus had spoken openly to the fans smacks as a very much lost opportunity for us all to be able to put this to bed.

Instead, supporters will likely draw their own conclusions and mutter about conspiracies in the timing or being kept in the dark. And that’s the last thing we need right now. Derby County are going to be tough enough opponents as it is, without the fans on side.

It’s equally frustrating because pretty much everybody passing through the turnstiles has nothing but admiration and respect for Matthew Benham and what he has done for this club. The amount of money he has pumped in to, firstly, save us but then put the club on the path to hitherto unseen excitement has been nothing short of incredible.

We all know the stories of potential mergers, Dave W£bb, Ron Noades, bucket collections, Bees United and BIAS. Matthew has come in and done the hard part (investment) to a level that still makes me pinch myself.

It’s just a shame that those working around him can’t always do the easy part (talking to the fans), to the same degree. After all, with no fans there is no club. It’s just a team in an empty stadium.

That said, when it comes to 3pm I know full well that those lucky enough to make it up to Pride Park will do nothing but roar the Bees on. I’ll be shouting at Beesplayer for this one.

Hopefully for all the right reasons.

Here's hoping for a repeat of these scenes from last weekend

Here’s hoping for a repeat of these scenes from last weekend

Nick Bruzon

Here’s the full video, for those who haven’t seen it