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So finally the Andre Gray saga is over. The striker has parked his car in the Turf Moor car park and it will remain there for the foreseeable future.

Burnley smashed their record transfer fee signing Gray for a whacking £9.75m (£6.25m up front with £3.5m in add-ons as opposed to the reported £9m plus add-ons)

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The whole transfer shenanigans resembled pass-the-parcel with the Gray gift being initially being opened by Hull before then bring passed onto Bristol City. West Ham then got excited thinking the music had stopped before the parcel was finally opened by the children of the good town Burnley.

Having spent the last five weeks travelling the length and breadth of America, it’s been quite refreshing being able to take a back seat on the recent transfer proceedings – watching proceedings from afar. If anything, it has allowed me to take a more measured view on affairs without being affected by the ensuing kerfuffle.

Of all the recent departures – Stuart Dallas, Jonathon Douglas and Moses Odubajo – it was only Andre Gray who who I am truly sad to see go. The other players were all great players for Brentford on their day and I were involved income great moments for Brentford over the years. But Gray was only just starting to get motoring. He was a player with bags of potential to crack out a good olde cliche.

Despite our little quips about Gray chasing the money (isn’t that what fanzines do – take real life situations and make light of them?), we totally understood why Gray left.

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The fact is Gray did go for a bigger money move. There is nothing wrong with that at all. It’s strictly business.

He made a decision to reap while the sun shines and join a club that offered him a bigger wage packet.

Not necessarily a club with a better chance of promotion.

Not necessarily a bigger club.

This move was driven by the size of the wage packet amongst other things. And the fact is, if Brentford could have matched the £25k or £30k a week offered by Burnley … Or Hull … Or not quite offered by Bristol City … Gray would still be a Brentford player.

But unfortunately the club with the lowest income in the Championship isn’t in the game of throwing around money like that.

Lets turn the tables around for a second. Would we pay £6.25m plus £3.5m add-ons for a striker like Andre Gray or £3.5m for a Moses Odubajo?

At this stage in Brentford’s career, the answer is quite firmly no. Even my Premier League team-supporting mates admit that type of money being thrown around our league is obscene.

Just to put things into perspective, Brentford’s turnover in our promotion season (2013/14) was £3.3m. Quite staggeringly, Shrewsbury, Orient and even Stevenage all had bigger turnovers than us that season. That gives us an idea of exactly what we’re playing with here.

Having double the average attendance of your rival clubs makes relatively very little difference to your bottom line when the club is making next to nothing from ancillary income including the dreaded (to the football purist) corporate hospitality.

This lack of income means Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules dictate that we are severely restricted in the amount we can spend on signings fees. On new players wages. On existing players wages.

Even if we wanted to.

Yes we may have a benefactor with plenty of cash at his disposal. But unlike Bolton Wanderers – £175m in the red – Matthew Benham is more inclined to spend his money more wisely to ensure the clubs’ long-term viability.

Hence the reason why our hand has been forced to find players either from the lower leagues (where Gray was plucked from 12 months ago for £500k) or Europe where player fees are not as high and wages are much more competitive.

The drawback from pulling in a multitude of players from Europe is the fact that, more often than not, these players take longer to adapt to the English game.

The club is fully aware of this.

Brentford manager Marinus Dijkhuizen mentioned it when myself and Dave Lane met him for drinks pre-season – stating that he realised it was important to ensure that there was a good balance in the team between homegrown players and international players.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why he made Harlee Dean vice captain.

Love the fact we sold Andre or hate the fact we sold Andre, there is no denying that the Andre Gray deal was a great deal for Brentford.

£9.75m for a player we bought for £500k a year ago with a 27.5% sell-on is not bad business at all.

Despite having big money waved in our faces, unlike Brentford of old we never wavered. If Andre Gray was going to leave Brentford, it was on our terms.

Could we have kept Gray?

Not really.

The club was desperate to keep him.

Dijkhuizen, a man who doesn’t mince his words, has continually expressed his admiration for Gray.

Matthew Benham felt Gray was a big part of our future plans.

But his agent had set his eyes on a bigger and better deal for his client. The idea of holding off for a season and ‘growing with Brentford’ – possibly looking a Premier League deal the following season – quite simply wasn’t on the cards.

His agent did his job and he did his job well. He’s a hustler. And to be fair to him, the same way he hustled a deal for Andre to get him away from Brentford – he also hustled a deal to get Gray TO Griffin Park 12 months earlier.

After the 2013/14 promotion season, Gray’s agent approached Brentford asking if they would consider signing him. Despite the stats stacking up well, a decision was made not to sign him up at the time.

Not taking no for an answer, Gray’s agent then followed up a few weeks later. With the Bees still in the need for a striker after a number of deals falling through, Brentford made he decision to take sign him up.

As it was closed season so no-one actually watched him play live. He was meant to be the No 2 striker after Hogan who we had signed from Rochdale.

Andre Gray’s rise has been incredible.

If anything, it’s a real sign of how Brentford are getting things right these days.

The down side of that is we are also a victim of our own success.

I don’t believe for a minute that Andre Gray is the only Brentford player looking for higher wages now that we are a highly favoured championship side with the vultures circling around our players.

And no doubt, other teams will be constantly watching our every move – knowing that a very large percentage of the players that we have picked up over the past few years have turned to gold. Every time we go for a player, opposing teams and agents will use it as a bartering tool to either try and get the fee up or to get other teams interested.

That is only going to make Brentford’s job harder over the next few seasons. Everyone underestimated us last season. They’re not going to make that mistake again.

As for Andre Gray.

A talented player who got the move that he wanted.

Will Burnley be the right move for him? Only time will tell.

But with that kind of ambition, he will be undoubtedly driven to go onto do bigger and better things … no matter what team he is with.

Unfortunately for us … that won’t be with Brentford.

Saying that, I wish Andre every success in his career. He will no doubt go onto bigger and better things … even maybe with half an eye on a trip to Russia in 2018 maybe or Qatar in 2022.

Meanwhile, our guys will have to get back the drawing board – armed with a pocketful of cash – and find ourselves yet another jewel in the rough as we embark on our quest for Premier League action.


Billy Grant