matthew benham

These days Matthew Benham is most well known as the owner of Brentford Football Club, which now features in the world’s most lucrative domestic football league: the Premier League.

However, the story of how Matthew Benham got there is far more interesting and relevant to us. Benham has spent much of his career in the world of sports betting, where he’s built a reputation (as well as his own fortune) as a leader in sports analytics and gambling.

Matthew Benham is clearly a highly intelligent individual. Finishing school in the late 1980s, he attended Oxford University and studied physics. Upon completion of his studies he became an associate of Yamaichi International in Europe, working as a physicist. After that, he moved into finance and held roles at places such as Bank of America. Quite a varied work journey!

However, he always had a passion for sports and odds, which he would engage whenever he had the chance. Like many English people, he was particularly fond of football and loved the statistical side of things. Couple that with a natural aptitude for number and maths, and it was inevitable he would be drawn to football betting.

In 2001 Benham took the first steps toward turning his passion into his career. He took a job as a trader at Premier Bet, a leading UK bookmaker. At the time he was working under Tony Bloom, who himself was a successful poker player as well as a businessman. Ultimately the two had a falling out, and Benham decided to leave and try betting for himself for a living..

Little is known about Benham’s own gambling habits, but what’s clear is that it’s very much focused on statistics, analytics and his main love: English football.

The Gambler and ‘SmartOdds’

In the late 1990s there was a paper published by Stuart Coles and Mark Dixon, titled Modelling Association Football Scores and Inefficiencies in the Football Betting Market. The paper became one of the first to champion statistical analysis and modelling to predict the outcome of football matches.

Matthew Benham began adopting the ideas in the paper and started building his own models. By 2004, Benham had successfully implemented this quantitative approach to betting. Soon after he formed his own betting syndicate: SmartOdds.

SmartOdds is more than a betting syndicate. Effectively, it’s a research hub for sports betting all around the world. SmartOdds provides statistics, analysis and predictions for professional gamblers and those involved in the gambling industry.

From humble beginnings, the company now analyses football from all over the world, as well as basketball, baseball, tennis, hockey and American football.

Based in a modified warehouse in London, the team at SmartOdds are able to provide custom statistics on a range of different sports and can deliver analysis on whatever a client requires. It’s said that the company employs around 80 modellers that record, model and analyse statistics to produce customised data – as well as place bets.

Matthew Benham the Businessman

SmartOdds was a huge success for Matthew Benham and his wealth continued to grow. In 2011 he invested in betting exchange Matchbook, which is now one of the world’s major exchanges.

Around the same time, Benham got more heavily involved in football. Brentford FC was the team that Brenham followed as a child. When he heard that the team was facing collapse he anonymously put forward funds to save the club. Over the years he ultimately took control and has invested a significant portion of his net worth to develop the infrastructure of the club and make it competitive again.

Benham now fully owns Brentford as well as the Danish Club Midtjylland. Unlike the more traditional owners in the sport, Brenham uses a statistical approach in his position. He uses numbers and statistics to both identify potential signings and analyse match strategy. It’s believed he uses a range of sports analytics firms to assist in identifying the very best talent available. This, in turn, has helped Brentford FC to compete with the bigger budget clubs.

The success of the approach is plain to see. As recently as 2009, Brentford competed in League Two – the fourth level of English football. Through shrewd investment and squad management, the club achieved rapid improvement, with promotion to League One (the third tier) and then the Championship (the second tier) in 2014. The biggest leap of all came in 2020.when another promotion saw Benham’s ultimate vision for Brentford realised: he’d taken the club all the way to the Premier League. It’s the first time since 1992 that Brentford have competed in English football’s top flight, and the success must be put down to Matthew Benham’s unique, numbers-driven approach.

There’s no doubt the Brenham has an incredibly gifted mathematical mind, which he’s turned that into an amazing career in both business and sports. He will likely go down in history as the man that turned around the struggling Brentford FC. But to punters, Benham’s story of building fortune through his statistical analysis of football is what will stand out.

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