Beesotted contributor Lou Boyd (@LordLouCan) discusses the elephant in the room – touting the idea of a brand – such as Red Bull – financially investing in Brentford. Would this be good for the club? Or would it see The Bees rapidly lose their soul?
The last few weeks have seen the Bees touted as one of a few English clubs linked to the possible expansion of the Red Bull football franchise. These rumours seem to have started with the presence of Ralf Ragnick, director at German high flyers Red Bull Leipzig, at our terrible home defeat to Fulham. On his tour of London, he also took in Chelsea & Charlton games (but funnily enough not Dagenham & RedBull who now play in The National League).
Saying that the the nature of his trip remained unclear. There is a possibility that this was no more than a trip scouting for players, building bridges with London clubs or making the most of the weakening pound.
That week ourselves and our evolution defying friends in the West Country, Swindon, both announced press conferences during the international break. We unveiled a long needed refurb of the club badge & Swindon unveiled angry gilet enthusiast & short term management specialist – Tim Sherwood – as their new director of football.
A number of football bloggers speculated that Red Bull are indeed looking to break into the English game alongside their existing & highly successful American, Austrian, German & Brazilian sides/franchises. General speculation would be that they would want to acquire a team with red in its colours, capable of top flight football (& therefore mass market exposure), provide value for money & be willing to undertake some sort of rebranding exercise. All of this in exchange for huge financial input from a leading international brand.
Still basking in Brentford’s reputation as the ‘Moneyball club’ & ‘bizarre free kick routine specialists’, the lazy journalists’ first port of call for any half baked developments & rumours is naturally Griffin Park.
Red Bull Brentford Bees anyone?
Interestingly enough as this was happening, the Bees commercial marketing manager Emma Vetriano tweeted her excitement at the prospect of a Red Bull team in England. This tweet was met with mild scorn & has been deleted. But it has already concerned some fans.
At a time when we will soon be up for proverbial grabs regarding stadium naming, is little old Brentford a rare bargain in the English game?
New York already boasts a Red Bull Arena that hosted (& paid for) our new flatmates London Irish to play there last year. If the emotional breakdown of large swathes of our fans around the new badge is anything to go by, any further changes will be challenged all the way and we would imagine the FA would step in to stop any formal name change or sandwich board sponsor kit change. Speculation seems to have cooled for now & Charlton, a bigger more vulnerable & already foreign owned club, look like a more welcoming home for the Red Bull empire.
Would it be a case of our loss?
Matthew Benham’s pockets aren’t infinite & Red Bull as a brand seem happy to throw tonnes of resources at football clubs, Formula One, Motocross & winter sports. The Formula One connection (Red Bull have a Formula One base nearby) led to MK Dons also being thrown into the mix. A franchise love in from the outside, although in Germany with RB Leipzig Red Bull did it the correct way – one that Franchise FC MK Dons & the FA avoided – by buying a 6th division team & investing heavily in its youth & scouting infrastructure, pumping it’s first team with academy products & only really making any marquee signings once they’d reached Bundesliga 2. Not a million miles from what many of the regulars in the Matchbook Stand or the University of West London Stand may have hoped for us?
For all the positives in the way Red Bull have conducted themselves in Germany, there have been negatives in their approach to developing Red Bull Salzburg in Austria – Marco Djuiricin’s current employers (although he is currently plying his trade on loan to Hungarian Champions Ferencváros at the moment – top scorer with 6 goals in 10 matches so far). And it has been done the only way it could be in the US – albeit it with success and a lethal weaponesque strike force of ex-Bees legends Mike Grella & Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Conspiracy theorists will also point to the obvious signs of a takeover.
We once signed Nikki ‘Red’ Bull.
Red Bull ‘gives you wings’ & our new badge is essentially a Bee flaunting his (or her)wings.
We revel in our tin pot status & tin pots are what Red Bull comes in.
In the age of parachute payments, Matthew Benham’s benevolence alone may not stretch to premiership promotion. Would we be fools for turning down £10m extra funding per season all for a logo on a shirt & a name of a stadium only used on tickets?
Should it ever come to that, would it be a decision for the board alone or should it be one done in consultation with fans & supporters groups?
Could such a deal to take us to the next level? And at what cost?
But the big question all fans will ask.
Would the assimilation of a brand like Red Bull into a club like Brentford risk them eventually losing their soul?