Welcome to my 2019 Christmas Message!
2019 as a calendar year has certainly been a good one for the Club, with improved performances on the pitch matched by significant progress off it.
We ended last season in 11th, ensuring our fifth consecutive top-half finish in the Championship, since being promoted in 2014. After the torrid run up to last Christmas our record in the second half of last season was commensurate with a Play-Off position. This enabled many of our young players to adjust to the rigours of the league, and in January saw the sale of our very own Chris Mepham, our first sale directly to a Premier League club for many a year.
We had a remarkable turnover of players in the summer of 2019, losing amongst others, Neal Maupay, Ezri Konsa and Romaine Sawyers. However, we ended the transfer window bringing in the likes of Christian Nørgaard, Pontus Jansson, Mathias Jensen and Bryan Mbeumo, breaking our transfer record three times in the process but still spending less than we received in proceeds of sale.
2019/20 has so far been very encouraging and, as I write this message, we sit well placed in the top six after a quite brilliant performance away at WBA on Saturday. We have had two long-term injuries to attacking players which has given others the opportunity to shine. We have a settled football management team and both Brian Riemer and Kevin O'Connor have thrived working alongside Thomas Frank.
We met our big challenge from last year by making our defence more resilient. With Pontus and Ethan Pinnock added to our defence, coupled with the acquisition of David Raya, we currently have the second best defence in the league with our goal difference bettered only by the top two. All bar one of our losses this season have been by the odd goal (the same statistic as last season). However, this time we have managed five away wins out of 12, compared to two all of last season, despite playing all bar two of the current top ten away from home already.
As fans, you continue to play a vital role in our achievements; an average crowd of more than 11,000 at Griffin Park and the huge number of supporters that follow the team to away matches is greatly appreciated by the players and coaching staff. With an exciting second half of the season to come, which will see many of the top ten make their last ever visit to Griffin Park, we need the fans to continue to be our 12th man! As Adam Forshaw said on Quest no one likes coming to Griffin Park, let's keep it that way!
Brentford B have continued to make great progress under the watchful eye of Neil MacFarlane and Sam Saunders. After May's Middlesex FA Senior Cup victory at Griffin Park, they are hoping to go one better and win both Cup competitions this season. That night at Griffin Park was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all involved and our first Cup win since the 1940s.
The number of international call ups continues to show the developing quality within the squad and the potential we have, considering we are one of the youngest squads in the Championship.
The progress we have made on our new stadium has been followed with keen interest by our fans and others alike and, as I promised last year, we are on track to complete the build by April 2020. Test events are currently being planned and our first ever game is expected to be in mid July 2020. I visited the site on 19 December and the builders are going full steam ahead to complete the build on time. The size of the home dressing room and adjoining First Team facilities are incredible!
We are in the process of trying to finalise sponsorship deals for the new stadium to deliver the additional revenue we need to become more sustainable and to help us bridge the enormous gap that currently exists between our revenues and those of many of our rivals.
We welcomed our new CEO Jon Varney to the club on 1 March and he has made a very impressive start to life at the club. Not only is Jon a lifelong Bees fan, he is a tour de force in the sponsorship and sales arena and the Board have been very impressed with the work Jon has done, including driving our move to new offices overlooking the new stadium.
So much of what we have achieved has been made possible by the vision and financial input provided by our owner, Matthew Benham, without whom none of this could have been possible. Matthew prefers to be in the background but I know fans will want me to take this opportunity to thank him for everything that he has done, and continues to do, for this great club.
Finally, I would like to thank you, the fans, for your continuing support as well as our players and coaching staff, and all of the people behind the scenes, who work tirelessly to help propel us forward.
I am extremely grateful to the Board and to the team at our new offices, as well as those based at Griffin Park, for all their efforts and dedication to helping us make so much progress this year. Their support has once again been outstanding and I believe that together we can look forward to an exciting time ahead.
2020 is going to be a massive year in the history of the club and as the New Year commences we are in great shape to achieve our objectives. Together, we can make it happen!
May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy and healthy New Year.