BRENTFORD were due to go into administration last Wednesday, but the £400,000 fee from the transfer of skipper Darren Powell to Crystal Palace has given them breathing space.

Managing director Gary Hargraves revealed: "We voted at our Board meeting last month to put the club into administration by August 7th if a deal to sell our Griffin Park ground had not gone through.

"Plans to sell Griffin Park to developers Wimpey would have gone ahead this week had it not been for a last minute stumbling block. But the sale of Darren Powell to Crystal Palace for £400,000 has probably given us a couple of months' breathing space.

"Now we are reassessing the situation regarding whether or not to go into administration."

The reason why the Wimpey deal did not go through was that a 'second phase' payment was due to be made of £5 million once planning permission was given, but Wimpey wanted to reduce it by £2 million. As a result former Brentford director Martin Lange used his veto to block the sale.

Hargraves added: "We are now talking to other developers as well. The agreement with Wimpey would have been worth a minimum of £12.5 million. That would have included £800,000 when the option was signed, £5 million once planning consent was given and the balance payable on vacant possession."

The club is left with debts of £4 million, and supporters trust Bees United's option to buy it for £1 and Griffin Park Stadium Ltd. for £100,000 runs out at the end of September, although that deadline may be extended.

Meanwhile, striker Rowan Vine has made such a big impression in helping Brentford win their opening two League games that manager Wally Downes plans to extend his three-month loan spell from Portsmouth to the whole season and it's all due to Paul Merson..

Downes, who will again prefer Vine to fellow new boy Paul Constantine for Saturday's home match against Oldham (k.o. 3pm), says: "Rowan has ability, is bright and looks dangerous. He is initially with us for three months, but we will sign him on a year's deal as soon as we can."

The 19-year-old Vine reveals that Merson's move from Aston Villa to Portsmouth persuaded him to join Brentford. He explains: "A club with ambitions to get into the Premiership is going to rely on somebody tried and tested like Merson rather than take a gamble on someone like me. That's why I jumped at the chance to play for Brentford to get games and goals under my belt."

Brentford this week signed Arsenal reserve defender Ben Chorley on loan. Chief scout John Griffin comments: "Ben could do as good a job for us as Arsenal's Steve Sidwell and Ben Burgess did last season."

Centre-backs Leo Roget and Ibrahima Sonko, who, like Jamie Fullarton, have joined Brentford on week to week contracts, could sign permanent deals.

Downes says: "Roget and Sonko have done well in our first two games. I am hopefully we'll sign the pair of them. We have made them offers and they want to stay."

Former Dundee United and Crystal Palace midfielder Fullarton, who injured knee ligaments after opening the scoring and then setting up Vine's first ever League goal in Saturday's 2-0 win at Huddersfield, misses the Oldham match as will Martin Rowlands (groin) and Ijah Anderson and Steve Evans, who are completing their three-game suspensions.

Brentford beat Bristol City 1-0 at home on Tuesday, much to the delight of a 7,130 crowd.

Hargraves commented: "The fans were fantastic and if we get more gates of that size of sell a player it can improve things. It could provide enough funds to last the whole season."

August 19, 2002 12:30