New Premier League boys Brentford seem to have hit gold with their football model
The 2021/22 Premier League season is off to a flying start. Brentford started the proceedings with a thumping 2-0 win over Arsenal.
That was The Bees’ first game back in the English top flight after 74 years. Yes, you read that right a mighty long wait. The home side looked like they belonged among the big boys. Ironically, their last game in the top flight was a 1-0 loss to the Gunners. Quite the redemption.
Hence, one might ask, why did it take 74 years for them to get promoted in the first place?Furthermore, after 74 years, what prompted their promotion to the Premier League?
Below are the details about how a data driven approach ended a club’s long wait for supremacy.
Here is everything you need to know about about the Brentford model.
Matthew Benham: The owner
In 2009, Brentford’s current owner Matthew Benham, who was a huge Brentford fan, entered as a part owner of the club with the Supporters’ Trust who were in charge before. Benham shared a connection with the club since he was a kid.
On top of that, he wasn’t one of those stereotypical owners who took over knowing nothing about the business of the game. In 2001, he left his role at Bank of America and joined Premier Bets, a sports betting company. Benham, who had a physics degree from Oxford, used his knowledge to build predictive models in the betting world took over the as the controlling owner in 2012. In 2004, after falling out with Premier Bets, he formed SmartOdds which earned him millions.
As mentioned above, he entered into the Brentford administration in 2009. However, in 2007, Benham bailed out the club with a reported $700K loan. He could not do much between 2009 – 2012. However, taking over as the controlling owner allowed him to use his Oxford knowledge in the club’s business. Hence, he took the data analytical approach for running the club. He tried the model before at a Danish club named FC Midtjylland.
The common model used by all clubs looking for success is to buy players who are performing well. This wasn’t the case for Brentford. For starters, the club started to employ players who had underachieved in their previous roles. The club recruited who they thought had the potential to deliver the results.
However, for some results could not provide that end product for some reasons. Gems like Said Benrahma, Ollie Watkins, and Neal Maupay who are currently rocking in the Premier League, have a connection with Brentford. The club brought all three players for peanuts and made huge profits. Ollie Watkins was signed for $2.3 million and sold for $36 million. Maupay was signed for $2.1 million and sold for $26 million.
Behman has invested over £100 million in the last decade. However, the club has also done themselves proud by making profits. Brentford regularly profited from selling their players.
The model is based on the famous “Moneyball” model.
In 2021, the club finally ended their long wait for a promotion. The club were on the verge of entering the Premier League for many years. However, they always came up short in their attempts. In 2019-20 season they lost in the Play-Off Final.
The London club beat Swansea City in 20/21 Play-Off final. The promotion earned the club a valuable £170 million to add to their kitty. Manager Thomas Frank did not fail to credit Matthew Benham –
“I am so proud of this journey – the way we have built this club and progressed, and stayed calm after an unbelievable setback last year,”
“The journey the club has been on is remarkable. Credit to Matthew Benham. If you work hard, anything is achievable.”
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The club have now set an example for any club with limited resources, looking to make their mark among the big boys.