The Government's 'Fan-Led Review' led by Tracey Crouch into the future of football has been taking evidence from across the game. Stewart Purvis, a Brentford FC Director and Chairman of Bees United - the Brentford Supporters' Trust, was invited to speak to Ms Crouch and her review panel. He told them the story of Bees United.
Stewart talked about a case study of a partnership between fans and an owner at Brentford FC and what he felt represeted good governence of the Club. He explained how Bees United was officially formed 20 years ago - read the full story here - and how it started funding the Club before taking ownership. He also explained how current owner Matthew Benham got involved.
"Bees United was prepared to sell majority ownership, indeed go one better and persuade the minority shareholders to sell too," Stewart told the review. "But in return they wanted a director on the board and a ‘special’ share, sometimes called a ‘golden share’ to stop any asset-stripping. Griffin Park couldn’t be sold unless there was a new stadium which met certain conditions.
"The deal was done. Matthew Benham took control, BU got their seat on the board and their special share. Over the next decade and a half, Brentford moved up the leagues and a triangle of railway lines with a wasteland in the middle was turned into that dream of a Brentford Community Stadium. And yes it did meet the conditions of the special share.
"The Brentford model of engaging with fans and the local communities works. Specifically the governance model of a fan director and other non-execs is a real benefit to the club. The golden share is an important fall-back in times of trouble.
"None of Brentford’s success would have been possible without the supporter activism of 20 years ago. And it definitely wouldn’t have happened without an owner prepared to invest and to see a route to payback. Any new system needs incentives as well as sanctions, carrots as well as sticks."
The above is excerpts of Stewart's submission. You can read it in full here. Tracey Crouch has invited fans of all clubs to send in their own evidence to her inquiry at [email protected]