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Bees journalist Jim Levack shares his thoughts on today’s much awaited statement over the short-term future of Mark Warburton and the long-term future of our football club.

Stuck in a work meeting I could feel my phone repeatedly buzzing… the long awaited statement must be out. At its conclusion I legged it back to my desk to read through the denouement of days of speculation which might finally calm the Team Benham and Team Warbs camps.

If truth be told there wasn’t much in the statement I hadn’t expected. After all Matthew Benham holds all the cards so barring a dramatic reverse ferret he would get his way.

A scour of the message boards and ‘In Matthew we trust’ seemed to be the heart on sleeve reaction of many of the Brentford faithful.

Others were hugely appreciative of the manager, whose football ethos has played a significant part in putting us in the position we are now in.

As a partnership they were dynamite – we thought it would never end as ‘tinpot’ Brentford rolled over the so-called big guns with flair, panache, guile and character.

Sadly the latter two of those qualities are built around a dressing room unity that may now be hard to salvage with Warburton on his way in May.

Good managers aren’t easy to find and Warburton was arguably one of the best we’ve seen at Griffin Park. Players don’t play for bad managers – though supremely professional they are human, and may be feeling this as a betrayal of all they’ve achieved.

The play offs now look a big ask, but if I’m brutally honest that doesn’t worry me as much as the mid to long term direction of MY football club… and it is mine regardless of Matthew’s investment. I hope he understands that.

I understand he is ruthlessly ambitious and is determined to take us to the Premier League. I’m also delighted that he wants to do so with a sustainable model based on innovation rather than willy nilly spending. There is no long term sense in that.

But I do have a worry that the statement doesn’t address.

Several weeks ago before all this blew up I was honoured to have been asked to take part in a survey of ‘Brentford people’ about the marketing, branding and future of the club.

I was on the phone for about an hour with the marketing guy and at the end I asked him who he supported. “I’m a little ashamed to say I’m a Man Utd fan,” he admitted: “But listening to all you Brentford fans has made me really jealous of what you’ve got”.

I’d told him about the brilliant work the club does in the community, mentioned the fact that local pensioners had been invited in for a meal, that there is truly something special about the club and its fans. It’s like a family where we all have the same values of loyalty and dedication.

That, I told him, was almost as important to me as the weekly football fayre.

So although I have no doubt that Matthew is as devoted as the next Brentford fan, I find his single-minded vision just a little scary. Maybe that’s just me and the fact that ‘little Brentford’ is now indelibly etched in my DNA.

I’m sure Matthew would accuse me of being an unambitious fool blissfully content to see Brentford never change and drift around outside the top flight, and if I’m totally honest I‘m guilty as charged if it means the character of the club changing irrevocably.

Comparisons with previous owners of ill repute are absolutely ludicrous and frankly defamatory. To my mind Matthew is either an impatient rich supporter or a visionary genius, albeit one who occasionally needs to seek diplomatic counsel.

Only history will tell whether the sacrifice of a very special manager – who will be snapped up – is a wise move, but regardless of whether we are at Morecambe or Chelsea in a few years time, I know I don’t want the values of my club to be chucked out with the bathwater.

My son is threatening not to renew his season ticket for next season. I will talk to him and calm him down and he’ll relent because the Bees are in our blood as much as they are in Matthew’s and his boy’s.

The question I’d love him to answer as we move forward, hopefully united behind Warburton, is how much does he care about the foundations of the club and what it stands for?

If the answer is not a lot and it’s all about making the big time, then that’s fine. I just think this particular blinkered fan needs to know.

Perhaps I’m unnecessarily scared of turning to the next chapter and certainly my dear old dad wouldn’t have believed any of this, but I would love just a little reassurance that Matthew’s millions will not mean the end of everything good that our club truly stands for.

Jim Levack

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