|Brentford supporters to decide on partnership with Matthew Benham|
Future of Brentford FC rests with Bees United Members
Today, Bees United members are being sent by post the details of a postal ballot on a proposed five-year, £5million-plus partnership with Matthew Benham, the club's largest creditor.
The Bees United board are unanimously recommending that members support this opportunity, which will be their biggest decision since taking over control of the club from Ron Noades nearly four years ago.
After five years Bees United can buy Matthew Benham out if they can raise enough money. If they don’t, Matthew Benham will have the right to buy majority ownership of Brentford Football Club. Bees United would still keep safeguards over the sale of Griffin Park, the club’s home ground.
“Brentford Football Club needs more investment, and I’m offering to invest substantial sums of money to help Brentford become a Championship team,” says Matthew Benham, a lifelong Brentford fan who owns Smartodds, a company that provides statistical research and football modelling services in the betting sector.
Greg Dyke, Brentford Football Club chairman, adds that he and the Club board fully support the deal. “Money does not automatically buy success, but when you are competing with the teams currently in League One, we clearly need substantial investment to give ourselves a fighting chance.”
Bees United members will have a postal vote on the deal after a members’ meeting on 17 August. Their vote will determine whether Bees United signs the proposed partnership deal which will see Matthew Benham invest a minimum of £1 million per year in Brentford Football Club for the next five years.
The new investment will be in the form of non-voting preference shares, and will not increase the club’s existing debt of around £9 million, stresses Bees United chairman David Merritt. “Bees United exists to secure the long term future of Brentford Football Club, and this proposed partnership satisfies that objective in every way. It provides for substantial investment in the form of equity, protects against any further increases in debt, and at the same time ensures Bees United provides long term protection for the Club,” he says. “This is a fantastic opportunity for Brentford Football Club and Bees United, and one which gives the best chance of success on and off the pitch.”
At the end of the five-year period, Bees United can repay Matthew’s existing £4.5 million in loans to the club and can buy Matthew Benham’s preference shares according to a pre-agreed valuation formula. However, if Bees United does not do so, Matthew Benham has the option to take over control of Brentford Football Club by buying most of Bees United’s 60% shareholding and converting all his debt to more preference shares. Bees United would keep a minority shareholding and a ‘golden share’ protecting against the sale of Griffin Park.
In any event, Brentford’s plans for a new stadium at Lionel Road, Brentford, remain unaffected. “Both the Bees United board and Matthew Benham are fully supportive of the Lionel Road plans, which would transform the future of Brentford Football Club as a professional football club at the heart of the local community,” comments David Merritt.
If Bees United members vote in favour of the deal, Matthew Benham will immediately buy the minority shareholdings of two former Brentford Football Club board members, giving him a stake of just over 35%. He will buy 25% of the club from ex-chairman Martin Lange and just over 10% from Peter and Timothy Wheatley, the sons of a former club director.
A committed Brentford supporter, Matthew Benham (MB) for several years attended almost all matches, both home and away. His career is in the football industry. His company, Smartodds Limited, has for several years specialised in the analysis of and mathematical modelling of the results of football matches.
Brentford Football Club
July 31, 2009