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At a time when people are still desperately trying to control the flow of information in the public space, it is very refreshing that Brentford owner Matthew Benham took to the internet to answer a barrage of questions from Brentford fans.

However, he didn’t do this via the official club website. Or via a high profile media portal. He logged onto the Brentford Unofficial fans forum – the GPG – as he has been doing for years unbeknown to everyone under his same old username JMF, to answer question from fans about as wide ranging as Danish Football … cheese .. and books …

The answers he gave were insightful, honest and in some cases very revealing . He talks quite seriously about how difficult the Forshaw transfer was and how Brentford had to balance between putting their foot down and ensuring they didn’t scupper the young lad’s career – which they could have done.

He talks about Brentford’s Cat 2 academy .. and other academies he admires.

He talks about the game that made him cry

He talks about serial transfer-jilter striker Andy Delort who almost signed for the Bees – but the deal was scuppered by his agent

He talks about his other club – Danish Superliga team FC Midtjylland

He talks about Karl Robinson and Uwe Rosler

All in all it’s a very honest (and brave some would say) revelation session from the the Brentford owner … a fan talking to the fans … with no airs and graces …. and he has won a lot of respect for doing it ….

Below is a snippet of some Matthew’s answers which we’re sure you will find as fascinating as we did.

For the whole interaction between Matt Benham and the fans (which is quite long) you will have to log onto/sign up to the GPG (click here)



About the Forshaw deal

I said that we wouldn’t sell any key player. I could be churlish and say ‘Adam wouldn’t be a key player now’ etc etc but I didn’t envisage, when writing that, that we would be selling players like Adam. The whole situation was very tricky

Trying to find the right words here .…

Adam was great for us for two seasons. He obviously really wanted to go. All parties could’ve handled the situation better. I think the price that we got was decent. Luckily in Denmark agents and bidding clubs act far more ethically

The Adam situation was particularly difficult because on the one hand we needed to play it firm, so as not to set a precedent that players, agents, bidding clubs could force us into transfers – and on the other hand we didn’t want to play hardball to such an extent that we harmed the career of a 22 year old who had been so good for us and was now in limbo

Wigan have an ‘interesting reputation’ inside the game for the way they conduct their transfer business. That was the case before Uwe Rosler arrived and will be after he leaves.

I guess that Wigan would say that it’s ‘dog eat dog’ and other teams do the same to them. I have no doubt that is true.

In Uwe Rosler’s opinion he doesnt ‘owe’ the club anything – he worked very hard, laid a good foundation and the club got a nice pay off. After that its strictly business. Which again is true and we accept that.

However, we were surprised that he came for players and staff back in December, given his contract (his contracted apparently stated that he wasn’t meant to come back for players and staff for a period of time – Ed).

Wigan’s lawyers said that the contract wasnt enforceable and they were probably correct.

From my personal point of view – I would happily use legal ‘loopholes’ to get players or staff from another club if we had no relationship with that club.

But I wouldn’t do so if we had a decent relationship with them.

Then again, being a manager is a VERY precarious profession, and if you have someone hard nosed like Dave Whelan looking over your shoulder, it might cloud your judgement.

Rosler thanked me in the press for helping push the Forshaw deal through. I guess he wanted to smooth over some of the bad feeling that Wigan’s tactics had created.

About the Delort deal

We were close on Delort several weeks ago. I think he’s a very good player. It collapsed on agent fees (word on the street was the fee Wigan paid the agent was 500k euros – Ed).

We resolved that we wouldn’t revisit the deal if that agent – who wasn’t actually the player’s official agent – was still around. Tours told us that they would make sure this agent was out of the picture.

When Scott Hogan was injured, this still hadn’t happened at things had spiralled out of control in all areas financially so we passed.

I will be charitable and say that our ex-manager must’ve been misinformed when he announced that we had bid more money than Wigan.

Then out of the blue we heard about Betinho, who Mark Warburton had been a fan of for a long time, since Nextgen.

About Patrick Bamford

We were in the hunt. but Middlesboro were always gonna have first option on any Chelsea players going to the Championship because of Jose’s relationship with Aitor.

About FPP

Without selling Adam Forshaw, we would be pushing things on FFP. We would prefer to be FFP compliant if we can. QPR bust FFP by a mile but no-one is chasing them. Clubs have noticed this and take a gambled on how they do their business.

On his companies Smartodds and Matchbook

Smartodds produces research. That research is purchased by a betting syndicate, which I am the head of (so no customers, we’re just punters) and Matchbook – a betting exchange similar to Betfair (but better, of course).

I’m the majority shareholder for Matchbook. Matchbook tends to cater more for the big punters – especially those who use the VIP service for “off screen betting”. We specialise in US sports although we’re getting bigger in soccer (sorry to use that word, but football means NFL in the betting world)

About FC Midtjylland & pre-season friendlies

A pre season friendly is likely with FC Midtjylland. Personally I like the idea of the West of Ireland. Matchbook has most of its staff in Cork and its a lovely part of the world.

We will be sharing a lot of info on best practices – training, conditioning, medical etc with them.

About the Moneyball approach to running a football club

I think many people have misunderstood the Moneyball concept (Fyi, Moneyball was a book written by Billy Beane who’s Oakland A’s found a way to compete against teams with much bigger budgets in the 90s by finding undervalued players through ground-breaking statistical analysis – Ed)

It wasn’t about baseball using stats – they had been using stats for 100+ years. It was about using proper statistical methods to find which measures have “predictive utility”.

We use some elements of Smartodds’ models at Brentford. But its only a small part of the process.

About his original Brentford credentials

Don’t think I went on Paddy’s unofficial coaches. Pretty sure I only went on official club coaches. Mainly 81 to 83. Then got into cross country running and didn’t go so much

On the style of football and the objective of reaching the Premier League in 5 years

I enjoying watching Brentford play attacking, passing football and it’s the right way to play to get wins too. I believe it is Premier league in 5 years attainable

On how Brentford can maintain the feel of a nice little family club

By following the model of good German clubs. They don’t look to fleece the fans. They try to make it affordable

On Championship rivalry

There are two teams I would love to beat 5-0 in the league this season

(In another post MB indicated that he was looking forward to the Fulham and Wigan most this season so we are making a deduction that these are the two teams he would like to beat 5-0 .. but MB didn’t actually specify – Ed)

On the idea of putting on free coaches to Wigan away to show how small a club we are

Not a bad suggestion

On Mark Warburton as manager

Mark has done fantastically. Also David Weir, Frank McParland and all the other staff

It wasn’t the initial plan for him to be manager. After a day or so I called Frank and asked him what he thought. He said ‘Make me Director of Football and give Warbs a shot as manager’. Uwe suggested it too. It didn’t seem the right time to do an extensive search so seemed like a logical choice

Favourite and least favourite matches in last 10 years – excluding clinching and missing promotion

Best – Orient away last season
Worst – Probably Doncaster away in 2012/13. We lost having been so, so superior. In the director’s box we got loads of abuse and taunts when they scored. The only other place that happened was at Birmingham [in the league cup] with their last minute goal

On whether the Uwe Rosler “You’re getting sacked in the morning” chants rang true

He was not that close to getting sacked. Even if we had lost at home to Colchester. 

On other teams’ set ups he admires

I admire Chelsea’s academy a lot. It’s by far the best in England. I love their philosophy. The FA could learn a great deal from them

I like Dortmund a lot and Roger Schmidt at Leverkusen

On Karl Robinson

Sorry to disappoint people but I quite like Karl Robinson

On Brentford players he believes can play at a higher level

We have several players with the potential to play at the top level. We saw from the Palace game that there’s not much of a gap between the Championship and lower end of the Premier League. The huge gap is between the Champions League Clubs and everyone else

Montell Moore is a very talented boy. He could go very far and (what’s more) he is from Brentford – I think the first player since the 50s

Who will play for England? Pritchard of course (who just got an England U21 call-up). Montell at U19 is close I think.

Unfortunately, there always tends to be a bias towards those at premier league clubs, even if they’re not playing much, versus league players who start every week

About the ‘dearth of young English talent’

Young English talent is as good as its ever been. Unfortunately other countries have been improving at an even faster rate. People find this difficult to believe but luck is just a massive factor in the international game because there are so few matches in knock-out competitions.

Even in a 46 game league season, the 7th best side can get the rub of the green and win the league – like Doncaster! 

So England have been at the same level as Holland, in my view, post 1996. But Holland have reached 5 semi finals and England none, with luck accounting for 99% of that. Thats not to say that the English game can’t learn a lot from the very best, like Spain and Germany.

One huge difference between the game in Britain and everywhere else is the refereeing. Our refs let far more contact go. That’s pretty much what the public want. Which is fine but you cant then turn round and ask why we don’t produce the likes of Iniesta.

Given the choice, if two players were the same level and the same cost, we would of course always go for the local one

On his favourite Brentford player

Andy Sinton favourite – despite going to QPR
Szczesny – best player..so far..

He also talks about family issues (his father played handball for Montenegro), his own footballing prowess (“a sh!t goalkeeper”), his favourite song (sung to goalkeepers), the game that most upset him (three guesses), his favourite chant plus loads loads more

About how long he is planning to stick around

I’m here for the long haul