Securing the Future of a Medium-Sized English Football Club: the Case of Brentford FC’s Planned Move to a New Community Stadium

Securing the Future of a Medium-Sized English Football Club: the Case of Brentford FC’s Planned Move to a New Community Stadium

Wednesday 3rd March 2010 at 6pm

Medawar Lankaster Lecture Theatre (University College London),
Malet Place, (off Torrington Place),
London WC1
(For directions please see the pdf map).

Given by:

Brian Burgess

Director, Brentford FC (Lionel Road) Ltd


Brentford FC was founded in 1889 to serve as a winter pursuit for the Brentford Rowing Club. The club moved to their current ground, Griffin Park, in 1905. The club enjoyed some playing success in the 1930s, but since then it has largely played its football in the third and fourth tiers of English football player. However, like most lower-league clubs it has a significant hard core following who exemplify the exceptional loyalty that English football clubs excite in their supporters and it remains a much-loved sporting institution in its West London locale.

It is a supreme irony that the period 1992-2008, which witnessed an explosion in revenues as the English game commercialised, has also been a period of extraordinary financial instability in the Football League – tiers 2-4 of English football – which saw 52 separate incidences of administration, as clubs desperately competed with each other for player talent in order to chase lucrative promotions to higher divisions. At Brentford this led to the club becoming heavily indebted to such an extent that its very existence was thrown into question. In response to this crisis, in 2001 a fan’s co-operative was formed – Bees United, the trading name for Brentford Football Community Society Limited – with a view to securing the future of the club through supporters taking a significant shareholding in the club.

Bees United acquired the majority shareholding (60%) in Brentford Football Club on January 20th 2006. It has loaned over £1.4m to Brentford Football Club and now has four Director places on the eight-seat Football Club Board. In November 2002 Bees United unveiled plans for a stadium development complex at Lionel Road, a triangle of land next to Kew Bridge Railway Station. Bees Utd’s plans were a potential remedy to the problems that had bedevilled the Club’s management for decades: complex financial arrangements for a new stadium, in an area of scarce land availability. Hence the importance of its fundraising initiatives and the Club acquiring an alternative stadium and with it a fresh tranche of revenue streams.

In this presentation, former Bees United chairman Brian Burgess first explains the challenging financial environment in which a medium-sized football club must operate. He will then outline how a proposed “community hub” model may offer the best model for survival and indeed prosperity for such clubs going forward into the future. He will then discuss the specific challenges relating to moving a club like Brentford from its current 100 year old home to a planned new 20,000 Community Stadium which can secure the club’s future for the next generation on Brentford supporters. Finally he will reflect on the supporters’ trust/private investor partnership model at Brentford, which over the last five years has delivered stability to the club in a very difficult financial environment.



Brian is a business advisor specialising in the development of sports stadia, multi-purpose community hubs and social enterprise models for linking sport, health, education, and social inclusion. He is currently leading the development of a new 20,000 seat Brentford Community Stadium for Brentford Football Club. From 2003 to 2007 he chaired the supporters’ trust (supporters co-operative) at Brentford, Bees United. Brian is also a trustee of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, a charity delivering participation in 15 sports in four London boroughs to 30,000 young people each year.

Until December 2007 Brian was Managing Director CAN Health and Sport Ltd, a social enterprise advisory service working with the public, private and third sectors to promote the development of community hubs delivering public services. Prior to joining CAN in 2002, his 30-year business career spanned the public and private sectors with extensive project and general management experience, principally in the engineering and construction, energy and utility industries, including executive and non-executive directorships in the UK and overseas. Brian is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

Contact Details

Birkbeck Sport Business Seminar Series Contact Details

For further details on the seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street


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