Brentford FC’s Revolutionary Way Towards EPL

The nameof Brentford FC may still be rarely heard in the world of football. Apart from the fact that they defeated Arsenal a few days ago in a friendly match that was held closed, there was not much news about this London club in the Indonesian media.

They are now ranked fourth in the standings and stand a chance for promotion to the Premier League next season. The City of London club is the team with the highest number of goals in the Championship this season with West Bromwich Albion with 64 goals, and is the second least in terms of conceding 33 goals, under league leaders Leeds United with 30 goals.

But that’s not special about Brentford FC. Brentford turned out to have their own way to make a difference in the football they live. Since 2016, Brentford FC has closed its academy and changed it to Brentford B which consists of players aged 17-21 years.

This is done certainly not without reason. And the main reason behind all this is the business factor for Brentford’s own advantage. The current owner of Brentford FC is Matthew Benham and Co-Director of Football Brentford FC is Rasmus Ankersen, two names who have been credited with bringing FC Midtjylland to break Europe a few years ago. Using data and sports science, FC Midtjylland managed to surprise Europe in defeating Manchester United in the 2015/2016 European League season.

Benham is a graduate of the University of Oxford’s Bachelor of Arts degree who later became a professional gambler. He is very familiar with the statistics of football players and believes that the data play an important role in determining player performance. He once fired the former Brentford FC manager, Mark Warburton, along with his assistant manager, whereas at that time Mark Warburton managed to bring Brentford promotion in the Championship division because according to mathematical calculations Brentford FC did not play well enough at that time.

Benham took over Brentford FC in 2012 by providing a guarantee of 500 thousand pounds for financially of Brentford FC. Since then, he has continued to elevate the achievements of Brentford FC in the League One division to the Championship division with an additional investment of up to 100 million to build the academy, facilities and stadium.

But this is still considered not enough for Benham. He realized that what he was doing at this time was also done by big English clubs with a source of funding that was far greater than what he had. Of course he won’t be able to win battles like that.

He then made a breakthrough that was not done by other clubs in England, namely closing the Brentford FC Academy which had players aged U8-U21 and only running the Brentford B Team consisting of players aged 17-21 years.

This began when he realized that the academy did not provide large profits for Brentford FC. He coached players from a young age until they developed. When the player is almost ripe and will enter a professional career, offers from big clubs make them interested and finally Brentford FC only gets compensation of 30 thousand paun per player as a coaching fee.

Benham is not satisfied with this condition. To run the academy from the U8 to U21 groups he needs funds of approximately 2 million annually. Compensation of 30 thousand per player can not make a profit at all.

“When you coach young players, there are 2 ways to measure success. Are you developing players to enter the first team? And can you sell the players that you build and make a profit? In the end coaching young players is also a business, and like other businesses, you want a return on investment, “said Rasmus Ankersen.

Matthew Benham with Rasmus Ankersen finally did the thinking in reverse. Instead of looking for potential players at a very young age and fostering them, he chose to recruit half-mature players who had lost their positions at big clubs.

Every year there are tens to hundreds of young men who have to leave the academies of the English Premier League clubs but fail to get a place in the first team. Benham and Ankersen see this as an opportunity and believe that not all of these players are bad players.

Both Benham and Ankersen both believe that the final results in football are full of tricks. The game of football is very random so the luck factor can change many things. One can achieve far more than what he should be able to achieve, while others can achieve far less than what should be achieved.

Brentford FC uses data and science to compare strengths between teams so as to identify players who have a higher level than what people knew at the time. Matthew was already very skilled in this field, and Ankersen executed it very well.

This Brentford FC B squad is treated no different from the main squad. They get the same facilities and they will compete with the reserve teams of English and European clubs. This is difficult for them to get while playing in the academy. A class of Brentford FC will be difficult to deal with the academies of big clubs. This makes it difficult for Brentford FC academy players to develop.

Brentford FC also uses a different structure to the structure used by the majority of other English clubs. They no longer use managers who take care of almost all the affairs of the club. The Brentford FC first team is headed by a first coach. As for Brentford B, it is handled by 2 sports directors.

“In the traditional structure of the English club there are managers who take care of almost all the long and short term affairs of the club. We don’t think it’s good for player development. The average manager only has a duration of 14-16 months handling one club. In that short duration what will be the main focus? Maybe it’s just the match on the weekend. Will you take the risk of playing young players instead of choosing experienced, expensive players? ” said Ankersen.

Brentford FC changed the structure model. Brentford FC uses a head coach, his job is to win the match at the weekend. The head coach does not take care of recruiting players. The task of recruiting players is that of Ankersen and Phil Ghiles as Co-Directors of sports. In addition to recruiting players, Ankersen and Ghiles are also responsible for the club’s long-term success.

For the development of players, Brentford FC also does not impose this task on the head coach. Brentford FC appoints a development coach, each handling a maximum of only 6-7 players.

As a result, Brentford FC is indeed the club with the lowest income from the commercial sector in the Championship Division. But their income from player sales is unbeatable by other clubs in the Championship Division. Brentford FC makes at least 15 million in profit every year from the sales of the players they make. Some of the players they have managed to sell and are now playing in the Premier League are Neal Maupay (Brighton and Hove Albion), Chris Mepham (Bournemouth), Andre Gray (Bunley), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), and Scott Hogan (Aston Villa).

In addition to contributing to sales, the B squad of Brentford FC also contributed to the first team. In the last 4 years there have been 16 players who managed to move up from team B to the first team. Of course these players are also not ‘remaining’ players who have not been sold to other clubs. The reason is the value of the Brentford FC squad since 2016 has also continued to increase. In 2016 the value of the Brentford FC squad was only around 4.9 million, now in the 2019/2020 season their value was around 15.3 million.

“If David wants to defeat Goliath, of course he cannot use the same weapon,” Rasmus Ankersen told Brentford FC does not have as much funding as Manchester City, Machester United, or other English Premier League clubs. But the intelligence of Matthew Benham and Rasmus Ankersen allowed Brentford FC to start level with those big clubs.


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