We are writing this letter to you, our supporters, to update you on the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in, specifically how it impacts Brentford FC and how we intend to operate for the foreseeable future.
It is just three weeks ago that we were preparing for a West London derby against Fulham and the final nine games of the season, including our Farewell Griffin Park celebrations. In the days that have followed, the Club’s senior executives have been assessing our position in light of the Covid-19 outbreak and plotting the best way forward to keep our great Club on course through these unchartered waters.
The football authorities have just announced an indefinite suspension of the game. We also know public gatherings are not permitted by government order. Our players cannot train as a group, we have closed all our offices and the staff who can perform some of their daily duties from home are doing so.
Our new home at Lionel Road was due to achieve what is known as Practical Completion during April leaving the Club on track to complete our move in July 2020. Last week Buckingham Group, Stadium Principal Contractor to the developer, Eco World, had to take the serious, but prudent decision, to urgently pause the bulk of the works underway to allow time for the position to be assessed. This was a very important action and was fully supported by both the Club and by Eco World with whom we are in constant dialogue.
At its recent peak over 400 people were travelling to and from work on the stadium site each day. In light of current Government Covid-19 Guidelines, Buckingham Group have now decided that it is imperative that they dramatically scale back activity at the stadium site for the present and this has been implemented. Subject to review again in two weeks’ time it is intended that for now works will be mainly targeted at electrical safety, care and maintenance and security areas and any activities will be conducted strictly in accordance with current government Covid-19 guidelines. The absolutely minimum and essential requirement during this period is to ensure, as far as possible, that the site is made and kept safe at all times especially in respect of hazardous unfinished electrical installations and, where feasible, other dependent critical live safety and related systems. Given the evolving situation regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic it is not possible at this stage to reliably forecast when the new stadium will be fully complete.
We believe we have an outstanding and dedicated group of people working at Brentford FC. They are doing a superb job and they work hard for our players and fans every day. As some departments are not able to carry out their day-to-day duties, we must therefore shift our priorities and focus our efforts and resources on other areas so that we can continue to operate efficiently and effectively.
These include activities vital to keeping our Club running successfully. Some of the medical team are required to keep the players fit and well and some of the finance team have to work on revising budgets and forecasting. We need to ensure we continue to support Season Ticket migration and Premium Seat sales and the Club Shop will continue to service mail order purchases. We have a move to our new stadium to prepare for and deliver and it’s imperative we keep communicating with our supporters and Club partners.
Similar to many football clubs and other businesses, a number of our staff are simply unable to carry out their day-to-day duties from home or their workstreams have been severely hampered. We have therefore taken the decision to furlough a number of our staff by utilising the Government’s Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme. We are incredibly grateful to them for their commitment to Brentford FC and thank them for their understanding.
After careful consideration, one area we will continue to service is Season Ticket migration. Two weeks ago, we took the decision to move all Season Ticket renewal appointments to telephone calls or online. This has proved popular with our supporters and has enabled us to protect the integrity of the sales process by keeping to the location and longevity criteria. We have approximately 250 Season Ticket holders with confirmed appointments remaining and, therefore, by 6 April we will have completed the migration of all our current Season Ticket holders.
To date we have sold more than 6,000 Season Tickets and a further 950 Premium Season Tickets in the area known as The Dugout. Once we have completed selling to our existing Season Ticket holders, we will move on to contacting our 6,000 Members followed by supporters on our 4,000-strong waiting list. We are confident we will have a record number of Season Ticket holders when we move into our New Home.
It’s no great secret any club’s most significant expenditure is on player wages and we are no exception. Last week a conversation was initiated between a group of the senior players at Brentford FC and the Club management about how the players could support the Club as we face this challenge as one united team. The outcome of that and subsequent conversations was the First Team players have deferred a significant proportion of their wages until football is back and games are being played without restrictions.
These are the direct words of our Captain, Pontus Jansson: “The players have been speaking about how we could show the Club our support through a difficult time. Our team spirit has been a big factor in our results this season, so I am very pleased that we, as a united squad, are able to show how much we appreciate being part of this Club.”
On behalf of Matthew and the Board, we would like to put on record our deep gratitude to the players for their support. The key value of Togetherness is something the coaches, the players and the staff all live by, the compassion and support shown by our players has been truly outstanding and as soon as we can shake them all by the hand to say thank you, we will!
We have a lot of young players in our B team squad that live away from home and many are from outside the UK. We took the decision to get those not involved in First Team training back to their families soon after football was halted. Our coaching and support staff are in regular contact with them to make sure they are OK.
While we have taken the decision that arranging B team friendly matches and tours in the current climate is inappropriate, we are still awaiting the decisions of both the Middlesex FA and London FA regarding the completion or otherwise of their respective cup competitions.
We would like to thank our supporters for their backing so far this season and especially in recent weeks. We have received some brilliant messages of support, and everyone has understood the position we have found ourselves in. This has been a real boost to everyone at the Club at an incredibly difficult time.
As well as Togetherness, another of our key Club values is Community. Staff have been working behind the scenes to support those who need it in our local area, coordinated by our award-winning Community Sports Trust. The Mayor of London has asked us if we can make facilities and medical staff available to assist with the work being done to tackle the spread of the virus. We are in an open dialogue with the Mayor and local health authorities to see how we can help.
We also want to alert fans of ways they can help those working in the care sector at this challenging time. We know of members of our staff who have been furloughed who are using their time to volunteer for the NHS and our Crowd Doctor is working on the front line, supporting the local community. This makes us very proud and we hope you are as well.
There are many of our fans that are also working in our local hospitals and who are facing a very difficult time. Others are working in the care sector or the other vital services – schools, shops, deliveries and public services to name a few. We are thinking of all of you and look forward to welcoming you back to Griffin Park in the future.
Togetherness is a particularly difficult value to hold on to when we cannot be physically together. As a Club we have shown great Togetherness this season and that has enabled us to be in a strong position on and off the pitch. During these tough times we are asking our players, staff and fans to continue to pull together. By supporting each other we will come out of this stronger than ever.
If you can help us, our Community Sports Trust or other fans in any way then please do so and if you want help from us, please ask. Despite the tough times we all find ourselves in, as Bees fans we have so much to look forward to. We are a resilient bunch and together we can see a bright future for our great football club.
It only remains for us to wish all you and your families good health.
Jon, Cliff and the Board