Brentford fans fight for new community stadium

Brentford

Big thanks to Gemma Teale and Alex Callow who responded in quick-smart fashion when we contacted FSF affiliate Brentford Independent Association of Supporters (BIAS) asking for an update on the club's proposed stadium move. Both blogs deserve to see the light of day so we've decided to publish them in tandem, you can read Gemma's piece below and Alex's here.

Gemma Teale from BIAS says that, despite the fact she'll "cry for a season", moving from Griffin Park is the best option:

Walking up Braemar Road towards Griffin Park, all terraced houses and floodlit haze, is one of my favourite parts of life. I love it.

I love its rugged appearance, the never-working PA system, I only lightly curse when I wash my hands in the impossibly cold water in the ladies loos.

I love that I came here with friends I now don’t speak to, on my own, and with my sister just once when she got confused and cheered for the wrong team.

I love thinking of that time a bloke next to me on the terrace, at the coldest, darkest fixture of an unsuccessful season stood dutifully, attending the match, but reading a novel while he did.

When we leave Griffin Park, whenever it is, I will cry. I will probably cry for a season. I’m welling up now just thinking about it.

But we need to move forward. We need something that will enable the club to be sustainable.

We have a few quid now (as every opposing manager will tell you) but that doesn’t mean we always will - it wasn’t long ago we were rattling buckets to save the club rather than leafleting to secure a shiny new ground. The club is still making losses each year, and even if the owner wanted to he couldn’t support that alone forever.

We need to take this opportunity to create something that has room for us to grow. And it really is a great opportunity. Unlike many new stadium developments, and several suggestions for a new Brentford stadium in the past, it doesn’t mean creating something that is separate from its community. In fact we will be able to bring the community closer to the club with the new facilities for the award winning BFC Community Sports Trust. The residential development that will surround the club – slightly controversially – will add to this, and BFC will remain a community club.

Could it go wrong? Of course. But I believe we are putting everything we can in place to avoid that being the case. I also believe that if we do nothing, and stay at Griffin Park, the club's days are numbered.

The vast majority of us trust that the current owner and the stadium team are looking to do this the right way for the club and the community, and all the evidence I’ve seen in working with the BIAS Stadium Action Group supports that. The stadium team have put in a real effort to incorporate feedback into the designs. This work was reflected in the London Borough of Hounslow's decision to approve the application.

But it still isn't over. There is a small but fierce opposition to the scheme from mostly Kew and Chiswick residents. The scheme has been referred to the Mayor of London's office and Eric Pickles, Secretary of State at Department for Communities and Local Government.

So our fate as a club lies in Boris and Eric’s hands.

As BIAS we have been working hard to remind people to let the planning committee, and now Boris Johnson and Eric Pickles know that there is massive support for this scheme. That support isn't just from fans but from people who live and work in the area and know the positive impact the club has locally.

BIAS have set up an online petition for people to show their support for the scheme. This is a development that takes a brownfield site and puts it to use in a way that benefits the community.

We need to let the decision makers know that there is support locally, in London, and nationally, for developments of this kind. We should also remind them that football clubs and football fans still can be parts of their communities.

  • Please lend us your support by signing the petition here.
  • More information on the scheme here.

Brentford FC have been at Griffin Park since 1904 and it’s the only ground in England that has a pub on each corner of the ground. Despite these rather nifty facts, Brentford fan Alex Callow thinks it’s time for the club to move on:

The idea to move to Lionel Road first came to the public back in 2002. In 2007 the move seemed even closer for Brentford when they acquired a 7.6 acre site in Lionel Road South with Barratt Homes and plans were made to be completed for the 2012/13 season but the economic downturn prevented that.

With the years rolling by it seemed the stadium move was just a distant dream but in June 2012 Matthew Benham, owner of Brentford, purchased the Lionel Road site and outlined plans for a 20,000 seater stadium alongside flats and a hotel. He would help fund the project by selling Griffin Park.

Brentford desperately need a new, modern stadium to provide a sustainable future. The move would see Brentford move into a 20,000 all-seater stadium. The move will give the award-winning Brentford Community Sports Trust (BCST) a home where they can expand and develop their work with even more children in the local area. See more via this Youtube vid:

On 5th December, Brentford moved one step closer to a new stadium when Hounslow Council passed a resolution to grant planning permission but there are still barriers to overcome.

Some local residents have tried to overturn the decision and there is also opposition for the new flats being built and the traffic it will create, with the views from Kew apparently being damaged with the stadium and surrounding development.

However the stadium will be built on a brownfield site, creating jobs and homes for the area and this project will inject money into the local community. The stadium will be used as a hub for the BCST and the new stadium will provide education in the local area.

With the new stadium Brentford will be able to sustain themselves rather than living beyond their means at Griffin Park. It will be hard to move home but fans understand that it’s needed if they want to keep succeeding on the pitch.

BIAS have set up a petition here for people to show their support for the new stadium and to show Boris Johnson that the move to Lionel Road is supported all over the country. Every person who signs the petition will help the club move closer to Lionel Road. 

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the authors and they don't necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn't be attributed to the FSF.