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Posts tagged ‘football finance’

NYC

Neil Young’s County: it was reassuring to hear the Manager at Stockport County emphasise that the Club, for once, had not been over-spending. He mentioned that his recruiting had a two year shelf life and the final budget would be comparable to last season’s. Some positive news from NYC – and that’s where it ended. We then lost 3-0 to our neighbours at Stalybridge Celtic losing two players including the goalkeeper to an over exuberant referee’s decisions in the process.

Monies and football finance will not lose prominence in editorial columns. Apparently ludicrous salaries and fee have ensnared City’s latest signing from Wolfsburg. Stories of precarious financial positions abound lower down the football pyramid. Latest focus has been on the league one down from EPL.

Apparently, Championship clubs have amassed more than £1.1Bn of debt with Bolton Wanderers heading that posse. Research, found the total debt was almost double the Division’s total cumulative turnover!

Bolton Wanderers has £182.1M, Queens Park Rangers £179.6M, Ipswich Town £82.4M, Cardiff City £81.1M and Hull City £64.8M. Only Preston North End appears to balance the books – though some write off of creditors appears to have happened in latest accounts.

Parachute payments, total £60M over a four-year period. However, from 2016-17, payments will be made over three years instead of four, while clubs who are relegated after just a single year in the Premier League will only quality for two years’ of payments.

Sustainable, I think not. Who will be the next ‘bubble’ to burst as the dream of the EPL is a mirage in the eyes of Owners.

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Up and Down the Pyramid

So County have remained in its League – well that’s some saving grace of stability. I am not one of those fans that claims always to be ‘in the know’ but after several years of loss making we are believed to be getting closer to that holy grail of ‘break even’. The stark reality now and witnessed by my Company for sometime is that the elusive ‘White Knight’ is a prerequisite to sustainability in lower league football with a few exceptions.

Alan Lord had moved upstairs to be DOF. The grapevine suggests interested incumbents might include those from TNS, Halifax and Bermuda (the latter of ‘Feed The Goat fame’. Of course, someone with a track record of promotion at least to Conference Premier would be best fit. Even with re-ignition of school-based and community initiatives, better football and bigger crowds are a necessity. I fear for the long term patience of the phenomenally loyal Stockport County fan-base if improvements and guarantees aren’t forthcoming.

David Thomas, from Western Morning News has reported on the difficulties that Torquay United face as a result of losing league status. Tranmere Rovers will face some home truths now after a similar fate. Hyde United will move to supporter-owned. Just me picking a few examples, there are many more with uncertain futures.

Torquay United lost more than £500,000 after dropping out of the Football League in 2013-2014. The ‘Gulls’ latest balance sheet, shows that the Gulls had a deficit of £542,724 for the year ended June 30th 2014. That‘s double the previous year’s offset by an injection of £570,000 from transfer sales.

At the other end of the pyramid, promotion to the EPL will be worth £120M to both Watford and Bournemouth, according to leading football finance experts.

The novel penned by Author, Charles Dickens, for my interested level of football, as a fan, comes to mind “BLEAK HOUSE”.

Media Debates

There was the usual anti-SKY TV rhetoric that has surrounded lower league football this Weekend – including the one in which my team now plays.  I recall one along the lines to a chorus of “you can stick your SKY remote up………….”.  Naiive to blame for County’s downfall but good humoured fans’ banter amongst this direction of abuse.

The political football is out again with Labour acting out a vision for supporter engagement and ownership.  Lip service or manifesto we’ll have to wait and see.  When all demise is discussed, ITV Digital is the butt of all ridicule.  Without defending them, the demise of that programming forced many a club into unforseen cashflow crises, but the ownership and management of clubs must share some joint-responsibilities.  The latter remain challenges in many a football enterprise – and don’t get me going on the Fit and Proper Person Test.  There cannot be many a net with more holes in!

Debate on media in Europe has recently been in the limelight and I introduce a debate from our European counterparts so you can all have a view on whether models are more suited elsewhere?

Sportel Monaco 2014 | European Football: Winning Media Strategies

The Guardian has said: “At the height of concern over financial meltdown at Portsmouth, Liverpool and elsewhere in 2010, the coalition talked about empowering fans. Fourteen clubs – including Portsmouth and Swansea – have become wholly or partly fan-owned, but despite the promises Whitehall has done little to encourage the trend. Labour insists this time will be different, vowing to legislate early in a new parliament.”

The overriding messages appear to share the common belief that ‘Football is more than a business, and fans are more than customers’.  If progress is to be made on this stance, which can only be correct – surely media must become more under the microscope.  I never forget the statement that for many, after religion, football and loyalty to a team’s brand is often the second strongest bond in a person’s life, outside the family. New media models should be investigated.

Spondulas

A new report states that the average cost of admission (adult) has rocketed in the top four divisions of English football by a startling 11.7% in the past 12 months – more than five times the rate of inflation.  Good job some signs of the recession being curtailed. 

At least County has tried some promotions in BSP to address sales promotion, recruitment of the next brethren and support for disadvantaged. The BBC Sport Price of Football study illustrated a rise in the mean (literally!) £19.01 to £21.24. I would be surprised that a similar added value could be witnessed in supporters’ benefits.  Bet you didn’t know the most expensive away fixture for ‘pie eaters’ is Kidderminster.  Some interesting stats are apparent for benchmarking.

The PKF Football Industry Group’s Leagues Apart Survey has been published recently also.  This showed: “Two out of every three English and Scottish clubs (sample 62 FDs)  face significant cash-flow difficulties with a majority preparing to sell players or seek support from a benefactor before the end of this season.”

More money coming in – particularly daunting futures.  All in all suggests a somewhat ‘leaky bucket’! Given the background it’s not strange to learn, as we did today, that Arsenal will not be competitive untill another two years have lapsed.  First things first – financial viability and sustainability are an imperative. Let’s await the emergence of Fair Play.