Brentford have confirmed that owner Matthew Benham is exploring the sale of a minority stake in the west London Premier League club.
Former City financier Benham, who made his fortune in the gambling industry, has owned his boyhood club since saving them from bankruptcy in 2012 and has helped take them from the third tier to the division.
Brentford have earned praise for consistently punching above their weight through smart business practice but recognise that they would benefit from further investment.
“It’s no surprise that there has been interest in investment opportunities at Brentford FC,” the club said.
“While Matthew Benham’s commitment to the club remains as strong as ever, it is only natural, and perhaps even essential, for us to carefully explore what new investment could potentially mean for the future.
“We must not stand still and we remain absolutely determined to safeguard the long-term future and to remain competitive in the world’s most challenging and successful league.”
It is not known how much Benham is seeking but a deal, first reported by Bloomberg, would value the Bees at hundreds of millions of pounds.
US sport business Sportico put their valuation at £160m earlier this year, but recent Premier League investments suggest that figure could be far higher.
Everton are said to have fetched more than £500m in their pending takeover by US group 777 Partners, while Crystal Palace were valued at around £260m when multi-club owner John Textor took a 40 per cent stake in 2021.
Brentford are currently mid-table in their third consecutive season back in the top flight, having finished 15th last year and 13th the season before.
They secured a return to the division in 2021 after an absence of more than 70 years, thanks in large part to their canny player trading and data-driven approach.
A year earlier they opened their new 17,000-capacity ground, the Gtech Community Stadium, which Benham’s investment helped to secure. He is said to have ploughed more than £100m into the club in total.
Interest is likely to come from the US, where private investment companies have piled into European football properties in recent years.
Analysis: Ben Peppi, head of sport services at JMW Solicitors
“Brentford is an attractive investment opportunity because it is a profitable club with a turnover close to £150m and a £30m profit before tax for the financial year ending 2022.
“While owner Matthew Benham is reportedly only open to selling a minority stake in Brentford and wants to remain the principal shareholder, the club could realistically be valued close to or more than £500m in total.
“As an established Premier League side, Brentford continue to generate meaningful revenue and the latest broadcast deal will certainly contribute to that, in addition to having a track record of success across player trading – with Ivan Toney likely to generate significant profit should he leave – and a new stadium in a great location within the capital.
“The current trend of selling minority stakes across Premier League clubs allows for teams to stay competitive within the richest league in world football, although these key considerations underline the potential for growth both on and off the pitch at Brentford.
“While the club will rely on identifying and developing young talent which they can sell at a profit, Brentford will want to continue to diversify revenue streams in order to make the club more financially robust and not entirely reliant on player trading.”