Bees must reach Premier League to be ‘truly sustainable’ – Benham

Brentford owner Matthew Benham says the club’s current business model would not be sustainable without a slimmed-down new stadium plan – and promotion to the Premier League.

Last week, the club unveiled revised plans for their proposed Lionel Road stadium, with capacity reduced from 20,000 to 17,250 seats and a number of facilities removed or amended.

And in an open letter to supporters explaining the changes, Benham also addressed concerns he had heard about the long-term future of the club.

He said: “Football continues to change so it is impossible to predict what business model would make the club fully sustainable at any point in future.

“It is important to note that the business plan associated with the original stadium design would not have been enough to sustain the club with the current Championship wage bill.

“As it stands, the only way to be truly sustainable is to be in the Premier League.

“The new stadium design is completely aligned with our Premier League ambition, will yield important additional revenues that move us towards sustainability, and will not involve the club taking unnecessary business risks.

“We will continue with a transfer policy which will help to fill the rest of the funding gap.”

Benham said he had reviewed the stadium design and its associated business plan over the last couple of years and said he concluded the plans were “no longer realistic”.

He also said, with the Bees averaging under 11,000 in each of their full three Championship seasons, the reduced 17,500 capacity would still be sufficient for the club’s needs.

He added: “The original plans were ultimately too risky for the club to pursue.

“There was a substantial chance of indefinite delays in the project, which would have tied up many tens of millions of pounds in legal limbo.

“I asked for a review of the stadium design and business plan with specific instructions to de-risk the project.

“The end result is a stadium that is smaller, has more matchday premium seats, and has a simpler design.”