Promotion to the Premier League is a brilliant way to celebrate the 20th birthday of Bees United, the Brentford Supporters' Trust. The Supporters' Trust began as a pressure group, took majority shareholding in the Club 15 years ago, and then created a partnership with Matthew Benham which led to him becoming the owner. Today BU is a 2,250 strong group of Bees fans with a seat on the Club Board.
It was officially registered on 26 June 2001 so today marks the 20th anniversary of its formation. John McGlashan, pictured left above, was the first Chairman. He told the Bees United website the story of how BU started.
"The creation of Bees United was the end of a personal mission dating back to the attempted QPR takeover in 1967," explained John. "Supporters were invited to buy shares, but all that really earned them was the right to attend the AGM each year. Two or three years later the Supporters Club proudly announced they had donated £1000 (around £13,000 today) to the club for new floodlights. I don’t know what they received in return, but it certainly wasn’t any influence over how the club was run, and I remember thinking at the time that continually giving the club money was just wrong. BIAS and Bees United changed all that at Brentford.
"Bees United owes its existence purely to BIAS, and the financial difficulties of Brentford FC in the late 1990s. With the football club sinking into ever increasing debt it was agreed that following Ron Noades’s promise to hand the football club to the supporters, BIAS would finance the establishment of a supporters trust. A series of public meetings were held, and on one occasion Trevor Watkins of Supporters Direct, a former chairman of AFC Bournemouth who had led a fans consortium to save his own club, attended to answer any questions.
"A steering group took on the responsibility of launching our supporters trust at the Civic Centre in Hounslow shortly after our defeat to Port Vale in the LDV Vans Trophy Final in 2001. A brochure was designed and printed, a name was decided upon – we couldn’t use the term “Trust” in our official title for legal reasons (hence the name Brentford Football Community Society Ltd.) but we could as part of a trading name. If I remember right ‘Bees United’ was suggested by Pete Johnson who edited the fanzine ‘Hey Jude’.
"I told Gary Hargraves when he was the club’s managing director that any money we raised, would only go to the club in the form of a loan. Bees United’s initial loans to Brentford FC were well in excess of £150,000, and kept the club in business. In view of the role Bees United has played over the last few years, I think we have had a decent return for that money!"