This has been a week that has just kept giving! Some supporters might say that they fully deserve some good news after all the ups and downs that we have been subjected to over the past nine months whereas I feel that given all the obstacles that we have had to overcome both on and off the pitch we have done amazingly well to be in a position where our Championship future has pretty much been secured and given a fair wind we could yet finish in the top half of the table.
Despite the warm glow of satisfaction that we must all be feeling after two such comprehensive wins in a marvellous four day period – and believe me I had pretty much forgotten how good it was to feel after back to back victories, there are some things, believe it or not, that are even more important than the football.
In that regard there were two massive announcements from the club yesterday that in the medium to long term dwarf everything else that has happened recently.
Firstly we finally received the long and anxiously awaited announcement that the Secretary of State Greg Clark had on April the first approved the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the land required for the new Brentford Community Stadium project.
This CPO included the Capital Court site, currently occupied by a disused and derelict office block, together with other small parcels of land that will complete the development site.
Chairman Cliff Crown was understandably euphoric and stated that achieving the approval for the Compulsory Purchase Order is another step forward in our development plans. This approval marks the start of further important legal steps that the club and the London Borough of Hounslow now need to follow. We look forward to being able to make further progress over the coming months.
Lionel Road is now even closer to becoming a reality and one that will mark a turning point in the club’s long and chequered history.
A move to a twenty-thousand capacity all-seater stadium will enable us to compete on a more even keel with the remainder of the Championship teams who currently dwarf us in terms of their average attendances, facilities and overall income potential.
We are currently competing at a massive disadvantage and given that our average attendance is in the bottom three in the division with the resultant financial shortcomings and that we are also subject to the dictates and restrictions of Financial Fair Play no wonder we have struggled to match teams who are ready, willing and able to pay players up to three times what we can afford.
As we have already seen to our cost we are unable to repel the approaches of better heeled clubs for our best players and can only ensure, as we have done, that we receive full value for them.
This has certainly been the case in respect of Gray, Odubajo, Dallas, Diagouraga and Tarkowski and it is likely that Judge and maybe even Button will also follow them out of the door at the end of the season.
For the time being we will need to recognise and accept, even if we do not like to admit it, that we might face the need to replace up to half a team every season.
That is of course as long as we can continue to recruit sufficient numbers of fresh, young and emerging talent, polish and develop them and then see them depart when the time and money is right.
The likes of Max Colin and Ryan Woods will undoubtedly have already gained admirers at clubs higher up the food chain than Brentford and we need to ensure that our recruitment strategy is more successful than it was in the last close season if we are going to maintain or even better, improve our position over the next couple of years.
This is an unsatisfactory and frustrating way of having to operate but quite frankly we have no alternatives as long as our income levels remain as they are. That is why Lionel Road is so important to us as it represents a much needed and long awaited beacon of hope for the club. If we are able to attract crowds of around fifteen thousand at Lionel Road, not an unreasonable expectation in my opinion given that we are averaging over ten thousand at present, and will also be able to fit in far more away fans as well as the extra Brentford supporters and floaters who will be attracted by a new stadium then our income levels will increase exponentially particularly when you take into account the certain rise in commercial and hospitality revenue.
Hopefully we will find out shortly just how soon it will be before work will begin on the site and when our dreams of a new stadium will be realised. We simply need to hang on until then, depend upon the largesse of Matthew Benham to help us remain afloat, continue to punch above our weight and sell players as necessary in order to keep the wolf from the door whilst ideally replacing them with cheaper alternatives who will in turn ideally become the stars of the future. Nothing in that regard will change for the immediate future until, with the move to Lionel Road, we are better able to bring in sufficient income to ensure that we can keep hold of our best players and establish ourselves as a Championship powerhouse.
There was also the welcome announcement from the club that season and match ticket prices have been frozen for next year. It would have been hard to justify an increase given the season that we are having when supporters have only seen the team win eight times in the Championship at Griffin Park but the club is to be congratulated for its common sense approach and hopefully next season will see a massive improvement in our home form. I suspect that we will lose some of the new season ticket holders who were attracted by the success we enjoyed last season but hopefully we can attract most of them back should we be a position to strengthen the team in the Summer to the degree and quality suggested by Phil Giles recently.
Brentford FC is synonymous with and has an important part to play in the morale and well-being of the community that it serves and yesterday’s announcements can only help in those endeavours. The past few months have in truth been pretty bleak but now Brentford supporters can start to walk around with a smile on their face again.
We are a Championship team on the field and that is also matched by all our endeavours off it too.