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Posts tagged ‘football finance’

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.

US of A

To be quite honest, I’m spoilt for choice today, on football finance stories to mull over.  What with Rangers omission from the SPL etc.

However, I want to reflect on the happenings at Manchester United, perhaps coincidentally this American Day of Independence. Today actually means more to me as it’s my Father-in-Law’s birthday, Necati Kur (pictured). Those of you that know me or read my posts are aware of my contractual allegiance to the FC United of Manchester rather than its ‘big brother’. This team formed in reaction to dissatisfaction with the affairs surrounding the American businessmen, ‘The Glazers’’ takeover. 

Late last night, and so mainly aired today, ‘Man U’ announced that it would seek to raise circa $60M via the New York Stock Exchange.

MUST (Manchester United Supporters Trust) has commented: “Until we have more detail it is impossible to say with certainty what this will mean for Manchester United or its supporters. However, from the initial information we have it appears that the new A shares on offer will be inferior to the Glazers’ own B shares as they will carry only 1/10 of the voting rights. Furthermore the preliminary filing appears to indicate they will not be paying dividends either. So a minority shareholding with inferior voting rights and no dividends is going to severely impact on the attraction to both financial and supporter investors.  However if it turns out that the vast majority of the proceeds are used to pay off the debt that is certainly something MUST would welcome and entirely vindicates our longstanding position that their debt was damaging our club.”

The Barclays Premier League’s Club filed documents with the United States Government’s Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday. Man U would use the money raised from the flotation to reduce its substantial (some might argue unsustainable) debts.

This latest tactical move by The Glazer’s hierarchy, is hot on the heels of the $1Bn (£640M) flotation tried last year via Singapore’s equivalent stock market.  The plug was pulled on that due to the volatility of the World’s economy.

The BBC reported that: “The Glazers borrowed large sums of money to buy the Club and the interest payments on this debt are onerous. In 2010, the owners converted these loans into a bond in order to reduce the interest, but analysts say the share sale demonstrates how the club remains weighed down by its heavy debts, despite its huge global fan base and promotional and marketing efforts. The Club currently owes £423M”.

Playing financial-football with a global brand?