>>> The 2018 GPG Matthew Benham Interview <<<

Banana

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As you know me and (relatively new) GPGer Jim706 met with jmf a few days ago at Smartodds HQ armed with your questions.

Questions prefixed "GPG" are from you (well, I think so), otherwise uttered by the attributed person. Nity Raj was also there, but we removed all his contributions :D



Introductions
Banana: Thank you very much for meeting with us Matthew. We haven’t done this format for twelve years, which was essentially your “coming out” interview


Matthew: Coming out?
(laughter)

Banana: Well maybe not in that way, but because no-one knew who you were, you were the “mystery investor” at the time.

Banana: So it’s good to catch up after a few years of you being the owner. The first question the GPG has is “how can the fans ever repay you for all you’ve done to improve our great club - you seem to be very unassuming, and don’t even like it when the fans sing your name. But there must be some way that we can show our appreciation for your efforts”. Now you don’t have to answer that, because Jim’s got a little gift for you on behalf of, well, everyone really.

Jim: Well, I’ve been supporting Brentford since 1968. My first match was against Wrexham, and Allan Mansley scored the equaliserI think your first game makes a big impression. And I think I read somewhere that your first game was Brentford against Colchester

Banana: So lucky we won that match then!

Jim: Yes, anyway, I found the programme for Brentford-Colchester, … I didn’t know, how do you get a present for the man who has everything! So I don’t know whether you’ve got that or not…

Matthew: No I haven’t - I did have it, but I lost it. You’ve tracked it down, fantastic, thanks very much.

(Banana starts unveiling another gift for Matthew, a framed picture of the famous picture from The Guardian)


Matthew: Oh, I think I saw what that is!

Banana: I was in two minds about this one! But I thought I’d get you the picture of you with your peers.

Matthew: Indeed, indeed, my fellow nutters! (laughter)

Owners.jpg

Banana: Before we get into it, is there anything you want us to ask you?

Matthew: No, not really… Actually, please can you ask me: “Matthew, would you like this interview to be nice and quick?”

(laughter)

On Being an Owner

GPG: You started with very little experience as an owner - what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?

Matthew: That’s quite a good question…, maybe not being sceptical enough, maybe not realising that in football, there’s a lot of people who talk with an enormous amount of certainty, so your reaction is “oh he definitely seems to know what he’s talking about, because he’s talking with such confidence”, and maybe a lot of areas we should’ve been more sceptical.

GPG: A similar question - what’s the best decision you’ve made?

Matthew: I guess giving Scott Hogan a contract extension when he did his second ACL was quite a good one. Yeah, that one.

GPG: As an owner, do you secretly hanker to get back on to the terrace incognito or do you enjoy your directors' box?

Matthew: I do hanker a bit in the new stadium to have a box and I’ll just be with family and friends, and it’ll be highly soundproofed! (laughter)


GPG: During your time on the terraces, which goal or victory did you celebrate the most?

Matthew: Probably Peterborough away. Gary Blissett, brilliant.

GPG: We’ve had a few questions similar to this one, “does the negative attitude of some of the crowd frustrate you, and what’s been the worst occasion?”

Matthew: Yes it does, sometimes.

GPG: There’s obviously been a lot of up and downs as an owner - has there been a time when you’ve thought about jacking it in when all those guys on social media get at you?

Matthew: Yeah, a bit… I think, because I hadn’t been prepared for it, I hadn’t expected it. It’s been a lot easier since. Once you realise, this is the business we’ve chosen for ourselves, once you realise it’s part of the game. It was a bit of a shock when it happened.

Banana: Was that when you really become a football club owner, as it were?

Matthew: Yeah I think that was my baptism!

Statistics
Banana: I don’t want to dwell on that period really, so - moving on to stats or data or whatever we call it here in Smartodds HQ,

GPG: according to the stats, which game was the biggest injustice, and which game did we absolutely steal?

Matthew: The last few years?! Maybe I’ll study that and come back to you.

Matthew: The only thing is - when we talk about lucky or unlucky, we tend to be talking about it over periods, maybe even over a whole season. I found you tend to get flak whichever way you talk about it. So like, the Doncaster season, we were just unlucky, full stop. We were better than Doncaster and Yeovil and we just got unlucky. But if you tell people that, some get really wound up. And then there’s the other periods where we’ve done well but we’ve got lucky, and again if you tell people we’ve actually just got lucky, some also get wound up.

Banana: Who are these people you’re telling that we’re lucky or unlucky and get wound up about it? Just, people within the game?

Matthew: Yeah, “football people”.

Banana: We’ll leave it there!

Banana: We’re talking here just before the Millwall game, at a critical period to see if we can get into the playoffs. So, today, what’s the “Smartodds” percentage chance of Brentford making the playoff?

Matthew: There’s a chance.

Banana: we’re not so far off sixth place, but then there’s a bit of a gap to fifth, so there’s a bunch of teams all going for it? So, there’s one place to play for, but plenty of teams in with a shout.

Matthew: And we’re a bit behind the others.

Matthew: In terms of our rating, this team is probably equal to any we’ve had in the past, and we could have been in the playoffs if things were a bit different, but randomness is a factor in football, that’s one of those things.

Banana: Where do we deserve to be in the table?

Matthew: I would prefer not to say cos it just winds-up people

Banana: Let’s phrase it another way - we had a very poor start to the season…

Matthew: With more luck - well…

GPG: I’ve got a strange one here. Is it true that you were inspired to get involved in statistical analysis when feeding the ducks at Marlow? The poster says “I’m sure I read that somewhere”.

(laughter)

Matthew: I’ve never fed any ducks in Marlow.

Banana: It was mentioned in an article somewhere that Tuchel, when he was at Dortmund, was using Smartodds data - is that correct? And would you do the same for any clubs in the UK?

Matthew: It was just a friendly share of information. I don’t know if he used it.

Matthew: I wouldn’t sell data to other English clubs.

Banana: That’s our edge?

Matthew: Yeah, and also, no clubs in England have really expressed much interest.

Jim: Do you know of any other club in England that are actually using something similar?

Matthew: I think quite a few are.

Matthew: One thing I would say is that the whole stat angle got massively exaggerated. Anyway with hindsight, we probably should’ve just said nothing about data.

Matthew: it’s only a small part of what we do, and also it gets exaggerated like “the manager has no involvement whatsoever” - you know, he’s very, very involved.

GPG: In terms of how we use the information internally, it’s very clear that we use it very successfully for player recruitment, or that’s the perception anyway. How much does the club use the data for current player and team performance, things like selection, tactics, in-play adjustments, promotion of B-team players, feedback performance to the head coach and players, etc?

Matthew: In terms of who to select, not much. We don’t want to talk too much… they use it as one other piece of information.

Jim: Five years ago, I went to Ecuador for three months to learn Spanish, and I was learning it with a guy called Craig Lawler, who is now our first-team scout in the North West, but beforehand at the time he was with Blackpool. He said he was using all sorts of stuff like hot zones, where the players go - is that the sort of thing you would be using?

Matthew: Not so much, to be honest. It’s really a lot more traditional scouting, a lot more watching the players than people realise. Maybe the only difference is, given the choice of a scout watching 10 matches online versus travelling to watch one match live, we’d rather watch games online.

Banana: Makes sense, right?

Matthew: Yeah, especially if you have all the player’s action clipped together, it’s only actually 10 or 15 minutes. Obviously we do get people to watch them live as well.

Banana: Do you actually have people to go and edit those players and actions?

Matthew: There are services that do that already.

The Club

Banana: Some words on the club. Are you happy with attendances this season? Because they seem to have gone flat for the last couple of years. And what would you rather: maximise the attendance, or maximise the gate revenue? Of course, it’s understood that there’s always a trade-off.

Matthew: Yeah, it’s a trade-off. There’s probably some happy medium.

Banana: The FA Cup. Do we take it seriously? Do we incentivise the players and backroom staff to take that competition seriously? Do you take it seriously?

Matthew: Yeah of course - everyone does! I think, when people look at these things, they tend to be very black and white - it’s almost as if people think “if we put out our full team against Notts County, we’d have definitely gone through, and if we put out the team we did, we have no chance of going through”. Whereas, actually, you’re talking about a marginal difference - the chance of going through in the tie as a whole, whether home, away, after penalties, or whatever. Let’s say it’s going to be 80% if you’re playing your strongest team, maybe 70% if you’re playing a mixed team, which still has the clear, clear majority of chances in the game. Overall we dominated the game, we had three absolutely massive chances. But these things happen in football. And against that, you’ve got all these players, you have to give them an opportunity, because if they are going to be needed in league games, you need them to have some match minutes. And you have to be able to rest other players as well. Probably this strategy gives us a slightly worse chance of going through.

Banana: I ask because, we’ve had a few cup runs in my time supporting the club, and when you do go on a cup run, it’s a fantastic, exciting time for supporters, to be playing Liverpool or Southampton or Everton.

Matthew: We wanted to have a cup run … I think the only time that you’d say we didn’t want to have a cup run was Derby away.

Banana: Well that was obvious!

Matthew: It wasn’t that we said “we want to lose this”. But we were absolutely all-out for promotion that season, having fallen just short the previous season. So that was the only time where we said the clear absolute priority, by a million miles, is the league over the cup competitions.

Banana: And is that still the case, is that always going to be the case?

Matthew: No, I mean to be honest, this January, we kind of realised before the Notts County game, we had almost no chance of going down, outside chance of going up, so we might as well try and do well in the cup. But, at the same time, realising that players needed minutes. And other players, who’d been playing week in and week out, needed to be rested. If you think also, in the last few years, we’ve had a lot of serious, serious long-term injuries, and they typically happen when a player has played a load of minutes. Especially in the Championship, there’s such a heavy volume of football, it’s so intense. So that’s when players can get injuries which put them out for a year. It’s always a balance.

Football Today

GPG: Moving on to the wider game. VAR….. Thoughts?

Matthew: I saw your tweet, so I managed to prepare! (laughter) … In theory, a good idea. Obviously the way it’s been applied so far has been catastrophically bad. Apparently, from what I gather, in Germany it’s improved to the state that it’s now only bad, rather than catastrophically bad, and they’re gradually going in the right direction. For me, it makes sense for red cards and penalties, when there’s like a clearly, clearly dubious decision. The one I’m really not sure about is goals, because you only get on average 2.5 goals per match. It’s supposed to be such a huge moment. And currently, the moment gets absolutely ruined by waiting a minute to see is it a goal or not. There was a comment from David Elleray saying on average it’s only added 90 seconds, and what’s 90 seconds if you consider there’s seven minutes lost waiting for throw-ins? Which suggested to me that he doesn’t actually get it. It’s not 90 seconds at any time, it’s 90 seconds right after “is it a goal or not?”, which absolutely kills the moment. If a throw-in gets delayed by an extra 10 or 20 seconds, you’re not saying “this absolutely kills the game”. But that is the case with goals. So the way apparently it has improved in Germany is they’re now realising that speed is important, and they only overturn it for the clear, clear injustices. So for me it should be for Maradona, Hand of God type of things, or these things where as the saying goes, everyone in the stadium saw it. Whereas if someone is freeze-framed and you see that someone was six inches offside, it’s just ridiculous to lose a minute to decide whether he’s onside or offside. Apparently that’s what they’re doing in Germany now - even if it’s marginal, they’d rather be able to award the goal really quickly, and they don’t mind minor mistakes.

Jim: So, even if it costs Brentford promotion?

(laughter)

Matthew: Yeah, for example I look at the Leeds goal against us, which was offside, by a marginal distance. Decisions like that probably aren’t the sort that should be overturned, because otherwise you’re just going to have this minute delay after every single goal. I think another thing I hate as a concept is that they go back for the entire move, so there could have been a minor infringement a minute before on the halfway line. It should just be really obvious things that happen in the direct build-up.

Banana: Does it actually help you though in what you do as a business, because it will give more fair and more reflective output? Does it help more because it eliminates referee error?

Matthew: No, it’s a real pain in the arse for us. (Laughter)

Matthew: there’s so much randomness anyway in football, and now this adds another layer of uncertainty, like what does it do to scoring rates, do referee and linesmen behaviours change, is a linesman more reluctant to flag, or less reluctant, etc. Does this increase or decrease scoring rates? It’s a real pain in the arse, to be honest.

Jim: Would you subscribe for example to each manager having three appeals in a game, like the NFL?

Matthew: Even that I wouldn’t like because when a goal is scored, it should be, I like the way that now, the goal goes in, you look, has the referee and linesman given it? yes! everyone can celebrate. I think it just kills the game, having this minute of uncertainty. Whereas, if it’s a penalty awarded, it’s not so bad, because if you’re a fan and your team gets a penalty, you’re kinda cheering but it’s not unconfined joy because you’re thinking “well, are we going to score it or not?”

So if you have that additional doubt, are we going to score it? plus also is it going to be overturned, it doesn’t kill it so much. And there’s a natural gap between the penalty being awarded and the penalty being taken, so it’s natural enough that you review it in that period. I think also, to state the obvious, the communication is horrible at the moment - are they reviewing it or not? There’s a huge amount to learn from NFL.

Matthew: In terms of fairness for football, I would, say having a regular 60-minute clock probably introduces more fairness than VAR.

Banana: A stopping 60-minute clock would be better than VAR? Like basketball?

Matthew: I’d have thought so. There’s so much abuse. You notice it especially in the Championship, without mentioning any particular teams or managers! (laughter)

Banana: I think there was one game, they were time-wasting from the second minute!

Matthew: Actually two games where they’ve been time-wasting from the second minute.

GPG: Moving on to a different subject. If Brentford’s squad were a national team, where would we rank in the FIFA rankings? I know you don’t believe in them at all, so I won’t ask are they a fair representation of where nations stand, but which team do you think Brentford would be equal to?

Matthew: I have absolutely no idea! Sorry, I can’t answer that.

GPG: Ok - if the rumoured Premier League 2 were to form, what would be your thoughts on that?

Matthew: I don’t know much about it, what’s the-?

Banana: I don’t know, is it the top 20 Championship teams would become the second division of the Premier League.

Matthew: If there’s more TV money, then I think it’s a fantastic idea! (laughter)

GPG: I think you may have covered this question beforehand but if there were a new law in football that you could change introduce, change or remove, what would it be?

Matthew: Yeah, it would be to have a stopping 60 minute clock.

GPG: If I recall correctly, you predicted Portugal to win the Euros in 2016. Who’s going to win the World Cup?

Matthew: Russia (laughter). That is all I need to say on the subject (laughter).

GPG: Winter Break?

Matthew: Winter Break? Yeah, why not, but just for a couple of weeks. I think it looks like it’s coming. A winter break sometime in January or February would seem sensible, just for two weeks … unless the season starts a tiny bit earlier, or finishes a tiny bit later.

Jim: They were thinking of splitting one weekend of fixtures, so half the clubs play one weekend, the other half play two weeks later, so there are matches but only half the teams. Then they were going to do the FA Cup in midweek.

Matthew: OK. I kind of agree with doing away with FA Cup replays. I think that’s obviously coming.

Player Recruitment

GPG: Player recruitment. We’ve had a lot of questions on this topic! With the club’s current recruitment policy, do you think there is room to keep or sign a couple of players that have valuable experience at this level, which might improve results further, or a higher level if we get there?

Matthew: The answer is maybe. We have a couple of reasonably experienced players anyway. I’m happy with the balance of the squad. But in terms of more experienced players, we’re always open to it if the terms are right.

Banana: As you know, we met with Dean Smith in the summer and he said about looking for more leadership in the dressing room. Is it fair to say, if I were to ask him again, has that been solved?

Matthew: I think two areas we could improve is in leadership and being more streetwise in certain situations but it’s just a small part of everything we want to do to improve.

Matthew: I think we’re always open to the idea that there can be players who are more experienced, who help you in terms of leadership off the field, so yeah, we’re open to it. It’s just it seems in England, you pay an enormous premium for that.

GPG: The recruitment model at the football club has proven to be successful for the last few seasons. A lot of that, in my humble opinion, is down to the current directors of football. Do you have a succession plan in place should Rasmus or Phil leave the club?

Matthew: Other people are involved, Rob is probably much more involved day to day, researching players, than either of those two, by quite a distance.

GPG: Which player, in your opinion, has been the best signing during your tenure?

Matthew: I won’t talk about current players.

Banana: What about excluding the current players?

Matthew: Excluding the current players, then for Brentford it has to be Andre Gray, because obviously that went very well in terms of the fee we got for him, then all the add-ons, then we had a chunky sell-on. So it worked out very well for us financially, but also as a recruitment tool it was fantastic, because then I think it helps with signing someone like Watkins - we could say we wanted this player from the Conference, so it really helped us.

GPG: Any player you’re gutted we missed out on that was realistic? An exciting incoming signing that didn’t materialise?

Matthew: Yeah, loads. Believe it or not, Kante was on our radar when he was in the French 2nd division. No idea if we’d have had a chance, I guess we probably wouldn’t have.

GPG: Any that we’ve spoken to that have been snatched away from us?

Matthew: they are too recent, so none I could talk about.

GPG: Is there a European country that has a lot of untapped talent? And he says “I read something about Hungary recently, but know next to nothing about football in the country”.

Matthew: I have no idea. I hope that’s true, I think Midtjylland have signed a very promising 17 year old from Hungary, so I hope that’s true.

Matthew: I’d say there are certain clubs and certain leagues which are undervalued as opposed to countries.

Banana: which ones?

Matthew: Ah, just certain ones. (laughter)

GPG: A lot of people have seen the excellent video of the Marcondes signing. Is that the typical involvement you have in transfer dealings?

Banana: And on the specific question, I have heard you’ve made a rod for your own back cos now every signing expects to see the owner there…

Matthew: To be honest, I was more involved a few years ago. In terms of meeting players personally, I remember meeting Will Grigg and Moses, back in the day. Generally the last couple of years, Phil and Ras have kept me at arm’s length much more and preferred not to involve me. I can’t remember why Ras got me involved on that one.

Jim: Was it the documentary, maybe?

Matthew: No, I don’t think it was cos of that. I think it was only because that one was in the balance, they realised he could go to someone else. There was Brondby and one in Turkey. So they wheeled me out because it was in the balance. But generally they’ve preferred not to involve me.

Banana: Was Ras leading that one because he knew that particular restaurant in Walton Street that we saw in the video or because he was Danish or what? It was quite interesting, because Ras was there at the end, and closing Marcondes quite hard I thought.

Matthew: Ras tends to lead Scandinavian ones, Phil and Ras split it based on what they think is best.

Banana: Sometimes, I have people call me because they really want to know the answer to a particular rumour such as this: Is it true when we signed Javi Venta, you hired out the top floor of the Shard in order to persuade him to sign?

(laughter)

Matthew: That wasn’t quite what happened! He was over, and we hired out a table at the Shard - four of us had dinner at the Shard.It’s a bit of a standard one, if a foreign player comes over, you take them to a nice restaurant.

GPG: Danish football, what is it about Danish football that you and the DOFs feel is comparable and relatively compatible with Championship football in England and specifically to life at Brentford? Is it player values, mindset, intellect, technical and tactical ability, pitch types or… Why have we got so many Danes here, basically?

Matthew: I guess it just naturally follows on from the link with FCM. It’s a market that we know quite well.

Matthew: To be honest, we were really happy with the Marcondes deal, but the first thing we said afterwards was “sh*t, we should have more contacts like this in other countries”, cos it’s really damn useful.

GPG: Did you purchase your stake in Midtjylland knowing that the Danish link to Brentford would be a long-term advantage to BFC?

Matthew: No, I didn’t really. Really it was just a stand-alone investment, that was the thinking at the time.

GPG: Is there any player that you’d like to sign again, if the opportunity came up and the price was right?

Matthew: I’m happy with the current team.

Banana: Fair enough.

GPG: Is there a metric we’re using to or have in mind for how many B team players need to or want to play in regular matches in the first team? I don’t mean the Freight Rover Trophy or whatever it’s called this week…

Matthew: Yeah, there probably is, but I don’t know what. It’s tricky at the moment, cos the first team is so full, we’ve got almost no injured players - it’s only Rico who’s injured. So it’s kind of hard to accommodate them.

Matthew's Investment in the Club

Banana: Moving on to your investment to date in the club. Someone, let’s just call him a “source” for now, told me that as of the end of January 2018 ,,,actually, do you actually know how much it is?

Matthew: [To Nity] Did you say 106?

Nity: Yes

Banana: Yes, he told me 106 million, of which 32 was on the new stadium.

Banana: 106 million is, I think to 99.999% of people, a staggering amount of money. Are you comfortable with that?

Matthew: Yeah, I’m pretty comfortable with it now to be honest. It’s pretty much at a peak, because we now have a lot more incoming flows from historic transfer deals. So when we get the instalments from them and the add-ons and sell-ons, and now the stadium is progressing, I’m comfortable that the bulk of the spending is now behind me.

Banana: So you’re not expecting to put in much more money?

Matthew: Correct. Not much more than 106. But who knows if the right deal comes along.

Banana: And, I’m not quite sure how to say this Matthew, but if those income streams you referred to don’t materialise, are you still comfortable that you can support the club further if required?

Matthew: Yeah.

GPG: On the same theme, is it imperative that eventually we gain promotion to the Premier League? Is there a deadline when that absolutely must happen?

Matthew: No, it’s not imperative. I mean, we’re getting closer and closer to break-even anyway, with the transfer activity and all the sort of add-ons and sell-ons. With the new stadium we hope to break-even in the Championship. If it was Premier League then we would be profitable. But obviously getting to the Premier League is a game-changer. But there’s not a date we have to get there by.

GPG: There was a widely reported thing about the Chinese getting involved, putting some money into the club. How close were you to allowing that to happen, what was the story of why that didn’t happen?

Matthew: nothing has ever got remotely close.

Banana: On a similar subject, for the club to be sustainable from money coming in from transfers, does that mean that ultimately we’re always going to be this club whereby if someone offers a suitable amount for the Chris Mepham’s of this world that we have to accept them?

Matthew: To an extent, but the amounts that we ask will progressively go up and up. That’s the way I look at it. So if you about Tarkowski, we always thought he had a high chance to be an England player, ultimately, if he got his act together. And there are strong rumours that he’s going to be called up. So gradually, as we get into a more comfortable position, the amount we’ll accept for players will go up and up.

GPG: How much do we get if Tarkowski plays for England?

Matthew: I can’t say the amount but we will get paid for a friendly, and more for a competitive start. We were very keen to demand that add-on, because there was a lot of feeling that if he applied himself, that he was a huge talent.

Jim: Does Poland count?

Matthew: No, England only

GPG: The academy. Would you start it again if it made sense?

Matthew: Possibly. We like the fact that we were the first mover on the B team model, so we’re really, really happy with how the B team’s gone. We think it’s really helped players to transition. We love the games programme. It’s a really good sales point when we’re trying to get new players in, to point at how well someone like Mepham’s done, and also all the opposition they can get. You play with the B team, you play against Inter, AC, Villareal, who else have they played? Bayern Munich, all these teams….

So, I wouldn’t say “never” to an academy, but at the time, the way our academy was, we didn’t feel it was working for us.



Banana: There was a story about Huddersfield were going to do the same thing and they didn’t because, there was a story they didn’t close their academy because they wouldn’t be allowed to play in Europe if they qualified.

Matthew: you have to have some sort of skeleton academy, but I believe, aren’t they doing the two things in parallel?

Banana: I’m not sure… So if, when we get Brentford to the Premier League, we would have to start an academy.

Matthew: In a hypothetical scenario, if we had to open some sort of academy in order to play in Europe, then, of course, we would.

New Stadium at Lionel Road

GPG: If the new stadium hadn’t been delayed due to the Capital Court issues, would the previous stadium plans have gone ahead, or were they always leaning too far uncomfortable?

Matthew: I think it would have always been problematic, anyway….

GPG: Plans for the new ground include a sensory room for, as I understand it, children with autism to use should they require it, which is a fantastic forward-thinking idea that will clearly have numerous benefits for many people.

Matthew: I’ve never heard of it…

Banana: Yeah, there’s a sensory room in the new stadium. I’ve seen the plans, and I didn’t write this question, someone else who’s looked at the plans has seen it as well.

GPG: the question carries on, “why then has the club recently taken the backward steps of banning iPad and tablets?”

Matthew: I don’t know what the rules are. But I guess we follow whatever guidance we are given

GPG: I think we’ve asked this before - who do you want the first match to be against in the new stadium?

Matthew: Oh, who did I answer before?

Banana: Barcelona

Matthew: Oh, so it’d be a friendly match… Yeah, Barcelona would be good. Wouldn’t happen, though! Midtjylland then, that’d be a good one.

GPG: Can you promise me that you’ll deploy a team of crack troops with flame-throwers to dispose of any that sell half-and-half scarves? And if any wearers do slip through the net, ensure they’re banned from the ground?

Matthew: Actually we’re planning for third and third scarves, us, Fulham and QPR! In fact and this was genuine, although I never followed it through, but I did want to do one April Fools when Ras was particularly in the firing line. That we would roll out these third/third/third scarves. And Ras would model it and use loads of marketing speak and say like “this ticks a lot of boxes”.

Jim: New stadium - you have to name the four stands. After which four Brentford legends would you name the stands?

Matthew: All four are going to be after me! Me! my wife, and two kids. Actually we’re planning to have an African dictator third strip, cos we haven’t had one - basically just pictures of me, and Mugabe.

Misc

GPG: What’s your favourite Coen Brothers film?

Matthew: Whoa! What, apart from Fargo, I guess?

Banana: Big Lebowski?

Matthew: I’ve never really got that into the Big Lebowski. Let me search for that. Carry on.

Jim: I’ve got the traditional GPG cheese question, and this one comes from my wife! She says “I’m fascinated by the GPG cheese questions , so when you sit down to eat your cheese, what is your tipple of choice to accompany it?”

Matthew: Opus One, or Château Musar. Probably Château Musar.

Jim: England, this year, World Cup - if you were to actually do the same program to pick the England first XI as you do to recruit for Brentford, have you got any idea who would be the starting line-up for England?

Matthew: Well for theEngland U21, there would be Watkins in there without a shadow of a doubt, it’s ridiculous that he’s not alreadyBut we always see this bias. A Premier League player who’s on loan to a Championship club, even if he’s not a regular at that Championship club, is much more likely to get picked for England U21’s than someone like Ollie, even though he’s a key player for us. It’s just like when Tarky was really good for us, he didn’t have a sniff of playing for England U21’s, but that’s the way it is.

Jim: And there’s a lot of debate about the fourth England striker, after Kane, Rashford and Vardy. If you were Gareth Southgate and we’re 1-0 down to Senegal with 15 minutes left, you look down the bench, who do you want to see?

Matthew: (throwing some names around)… I’d probably have Sturridge.

Matthew: I haven’t answered on the Coen Brothers! It’s obviously Fargo, but I’ll give you a second one. After Fargo, it will be… Oh, without a shadow of a doubt, and actually equally, The Man Who Wasn’t There.

Banana: We asked you previously for a top 10 list of Brentford games…

Matthew: Oh, sh*t, no, I haven’t done that…

Jim: Favourite?

Matthew: Peterborough away.

GPG: Has your matchday experience changed since everyone knows who you are now?

Matthew: Yeah, a bit, not too much. It’s fine, it’s tolerable.

Banana: Do they say hello to you when you come across the forecourt, shake your hand?

Matthew: Yeah, a few…

Nity Raj: You’re so late mostly, everyone’s generally come in so it doesn’t make much difference (laughter)

Banana: One final question … what breakfast do you normally have on a match day and if it’s a fry up what components do you opt for?

Matthew: my usual match day breakfast is a small bar of dark chocolate, some cashew nuts, a couple of slices of wholemeal toast and some blueberries.

Banana: Well that’s about it Matthew, thank you very much, much appreciated.
 
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Mikey Bee

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Glad to see one of my questions (the DoF succession plan) made the cut even if it did lead to a further question - what's the succession plan for Rasmus, Phil and Rob?

Anyway, thanks to all involved. Fascinating reading although I am now concerned the owner of my club doesn't rate The Big Lebowski....
 

Col T

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O, brother where art thou? Matthew... come on now.

I really wish we had had a Rasmus West London scarf interview. The internet would've exploded.

Thanks to all involved
 

Lionel Bart-At

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Brilliant stuff. Thanks ever so much to Banana, Jim and anyone else involved. And especially to Sir Matthew. By far the most significant snippet from that whole interview, to me, is Matthew's assertion that it is not imperative that we reach the premier league; that we are approaching break-even; that he doesn't even envisage having to invest too much more himself; and, that even if it were necessary to continue with his investment, he would be comfortable with that. I had the impression that we were a ticking clock haemorrhaging Matthew's cash. This is very reassuring news.
 
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Banana

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Must add that I can't thank jmf enough for wasting his time on meeting with us and answering your questions, and nitbee too for his, er, "tireless work" in helping getting the raw material to something that we could publish! Cheers both :sorted:
 

Slabs

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Great work all!
I feel like I've made it in life now that my question was asked first 😁
 

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Kate Adie eat your heart out. Well done folks. He comes over well. Intelligent , wise ,astute , honest and a great sense of humour....same with Matthew.:love:
 

maddogging

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It’s appreciated. Very reassuring to read MB’s answers, the guy is a genius in my eyes
 
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Banana

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106 million!

Thank you Matthew.

Indeed. I can't believe those numbers. There are very few people that would put "at risk" that amount of money in a football club. The transcript doesn't really express the nonchalance with which he answered this question. It's unfortunate that the audio is basically unusable...
 

wibs

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So did he know its called Susan or not?

That was one of those reads where halfway through you get this slightly panicky feeling knowing it is going to come to an end soon and you don't want it to because you are enjoying it so much.
 

wanderer paul

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Good stuff. Shame he had the minder with him! lol
 

Guildford Bee

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Good stuff although I get the sense from reading that he was less forthcoming than in the previous interview.
 

Les Beeavinu

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Good stuff although I get the sense from reading that he was less forthcoming than in the previous interview.

10+ years of experience had an influence it seems. :( Definitely seems to have taken a few knocks along the way. 1 thing I noted is that he is very, very protective of the players at the club. Clearly wants there to be a team ethic from the top to the bottom of the club.
 

clarkeeuk99

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Really enjoyed reading that. Many thanks to everyone involved in making this happen :thumbsup:
 

NorthamptonBee

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I am now concerned the owner of my club doesn't rate The Big Lebowski....

I stopped reading at this point, I'm lucky enough to have spoken to MB about these brilliant films, I don't remember any issues with the Dude and his band of merry men.
 

King Bee

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Well done to Banana and team, this is a really good interview - liked his choice of tipple with cheese, last and only time I drank Opus was courtesy of UBS at Smith & Wollensky's NYC way back when you could do that kind of thing on expenses...
 
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RoyBee

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Very interesting point about not being sceptical enough as his lesson learned. In my experience you see that in all walks of life. I’ve certainly seen it in my career. There are an incredible amount of bullsh1 tters out there. Just because they speak with confidence and authority, doesn’t mean they are right.
 

TW3Bee

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Indeed. I can't believe those numbers. There are very few people that would put "at risk" that amount of money in a football club.

Especially one of our size.
 

TW3Bee

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Skimmed through it last night, and have just found the time to reaqd it all.

Well done to all involved especially MB.
 

Chorlton Bee

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You're out of your element.

Fantastic job all, without being (too) sniffy, I thought my question regarding his views of prevalence of gambling industry in football would've been intriguing, did just not make the cut or was it deemed too controversial?
 

mhead bee

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Brilliant stuff. Thanks ever so much to Banana, Jim and anyone else involved. And especially to Sir Matthew. By far the most significant snippet from that whole interview, to me, is Matthew's assertion that it is not imperative that we reach the premier league; that we are approaching break-even; that he doesn't even envisage having to invest too much more himself; and, that even if it were necessary to continue with his investment, he would be comfortable with that. I had the impression that we were a ticking clock haemorrhaging Matthew's cash. This is very reassuring news.

Of course that is based on us continuing to be successful in our transfers, a few injuries to key players could change that significantly as the income in the next 2-3 years would be hit.

I find it interesting that he knew little about some of the stadium facilities, he employs people to do that whilst he runs a multi billion company and two football clubs, you do assume he is following every step but it simply isn't possible.
 

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Great read - any chance we can put it out on social media to shut up some of our more vocal 'fans', assuming they can read that is?
 

mhead bee

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Indeed. I can't believe those numbers. There are very few people that would put "at risk" that amount of money in a football club. The transcript doesn't really express the nonchalance with which he answered this question. It's unfortunate that the audio is basically unusable...

A staggering amount of money, I suppose it is all relative though, If I could have spent 5 grand and it made us sustainable in the championship I think I would have done it. (goes back to the vodka)
 

Kingston Bee

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Thank you Banana a great read. After digesting it just reminds me again of how lucky we are.
 

jlove

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Great read - any chance we can put it out on social media to shut up some of our more vocal 'fans', assuming they can read that is?

I'd be 100% certain that there's too many words for any of those individuals to read through and understand. Most seem to have the attention span of a gnat; even a Sun headline would be a struggle for them.
 

wibs

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Skimmed through it last night, and have just found the time to reaqd it all.

Well done to all involved especially MB.

ooh get you you're so busy
 

BeeHomeSoon

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Of course that is based on us continuing to be successful in our transfers, a few injuries to key players could change that significantly as the income in the next 2-3 years would be hit.

I find it interesting that he knew little about some of the stadium facilities, he employs people to do that whilst he runs a multi billion company and two football clubs, you do assume he is following every step but it simply isn't possible.

I could be way wide of the mark here but I read that as MB joking around regarding having no idea about the sensory room at the new stadium.

Maybe Banana could confirm?
 

Les Beeavinu

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I could be way wide of the mark here but I read that as MB joking around regarding having no idea about the sensory room at the new stadium.

Maybe Banana could confirm?

Nope, it didn't sound like he was aware of it.
 

CRitch87

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Good read, thanks.

Can we stop asking about fave game, it’s clearly posh away ! :)

Thanks
 

Isleworth_Bee

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Top read.

£106 Million!!!!!!! £106 MILLION!!!!!!!

I think its fair to say that Mrs Benham is a very understanding/accommodating wife of our wonderful owner. :sorted:
 
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Banana

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You're out of your element.

Fantastic job all, without being (too) sniffy, I thought my question regarding his views of prevalence of gambling industry in football would've been intriguing, did just not make the cut or was it deemed too controversial?

Apologies for omitting that one. We only had limited time, and as you can read from his preamble, he didn't want to be there all afternoon! Hence I had to skip a few and concentrate on ones I thought would have wider appeal. However, good news, it's only another 12 years to wait before you can ask again!
 
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Banana

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I could be way wide of the mark here but I read that as MB joking around regarding having no idea about the sensory room at the new stadium.

Maybe Banana could confirm?

Nope, it didn't sound like he was aware of it.

I was going to produce the audio for some bits, but it's nigh-on impossible to do so in a decent amount of time. Now we have published a version of the transcript, I may go searching for useable sections. From memory this is one.

To be fair you point is a valid one as so much is lost between the audio and the transcript. And it's frightening to hear how poor my diction is!
 

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Interested to see if Fleet John's next breakfast choice includes blueberries!
 

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