Burnley: Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in

As The Notsensibles are one of our favourite bands, it’s time to take a look at the financies of Burnley as the club celebrated their most successful season to date in the Premier League in 2016/17 by finishing six points above the drop and have since used this as a springboard to be presently challenging for a European place.

The club, along with manager Sean Dyche and the players, don’t get the credit they deserve for winning matches and playing decent football, with too many critics lazily linking Dyche’s nightclub bouncer dress code, Dalek like voice to a club with the ethos of a slightly upmarket Wimbledon of the Crazy Gang era.

There are three companies involved in the running of Burnley

(a) The Burnley Football and Athletic Company, formed in 1897, runs the club’s day to day operations.

(b) Longside Properties Limited, which appears to own Turf Moor and rent it to the football club.

(c) Burnley FC Holdings Limited, which owns 100% of the shares of both the above companies, and which forms the basis for this analysis.

Executive summary of key figures (Burnley FC Holdings Limited)

Income £121.2 million (up 203%)

Broadcasting income £105 million (up 254%)

Wages £61.2 million (up 126%)

Profit before player sales £26.0 million (Loss of £3.6 million in 2016)

Player purchases £42.8 million (£21.9 million in 2016)

Player sales £1.8 million

Borrowings: None

Income

Burnley have bounced between the top two divisions in recent years, with three promotions and two relegations since 2009, and this is reflected in their volatile income levels.

Burnley have been beneficiaries of either Premier League membership or parachute payments since 2010, and the sharp spikes in income in 2010, 2015 and 2017 represent the years in which they have been in the top flight.

Although it tripled in 2016/17, Burnley’s overall income was the second lowest of Premier League teams last season. Talk to a Lancastrian, and they will tell you it’s not about how much money you earn, but spending it wisely that matters, and The Clarets have wasted little and added strength to their team after surviving last season.

Eighteen clubs who were in the Premier League last season have reported their results to date. Only car crash Sunderland, probably too busy setting the club coach’s sat nav to Accrington, and small London outfit Crystal Palace have failed to do so.

All Premier League clubs are reporting higher income for 2016/17 than in the previous season. The average income of the 18 clubs that have reported to date is £239 million, up 31% from £182 million the previous season. The average in the Championship is just £28.6 million.

Burnley therefore earned half of the average income in the division, such is the way that money is skewed towards the ‘Big Six’ in the Premier League of Manchester United and City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs (even though the latter haven’t won the title for nearly 60 years).

The main reason for the increase in overall income in the Premier League for 2016/17 was the new Sky/BT domestic TV deal, worth £5.1 billion over three seasons.

The Premier League divide money into five pots. Three of the pots cover the domestic TV deal, and they are split 50% evenly, 25% based on the number of TV appearances (every club is guaranteed a minimum of ten of these) and 25% based on final league position. Each place up the table is worth just under £2 million.

Overseas broadcasting income and centrally agreed commercial deals are split evenly between the twenty clubs. This arrangement is likely to come under fire in the summer as the ‘Bix Six’ want to grab a bigger slice of this pie for themselves. Their argument is that overseas TV fans would rather watch one of their clubs than that of a team such as Burnley, and so they ‘deserve’ more money.

Whilst this argument is true in terms of the number of viewers, it ignores the fact that the ‘Other 14’ can compete against most clubs in Europe apart from the elite for players (all 20 EPL clubs are in the top 35 richest in Europe) and thus can put up a decent performance against the Big Six.

This partly explains why Burnley won at Chelsea, Huddersfield beat Manchester United, Swansea beat Liverpool and many clubs have turned over Arsenal.

Like all clubs Burnley earn their income from three sources, matchday, broadcasting and commercial/sponsorship.

Matchday income increased by 17% to £5.8 million. This appears to be due to higher attendances (a 23% increase to 20,558) rather than increased ticket prices.

Matchday income was enough to pay Alexei Sanchez’s wages for three months and represents only represents 5% of the club’s total income.

Burnley had the second lowest matchday income total in the division, but still managed to be survive and thene thrive. This shows that size doesn’t necessarily matter, it’s what you do with it that counts (something I’ve been trying to persuade my slightly disappointed wife of for years).

Ticket prices seem to have fallen since Burnley’s last season in the Premier League, with matchday income averaging £284.27, about 10% lower than in 2015. This works out at £14.96 per match, which may surprise some Clarets, but remember this is the average of adults, seniors and kids, and is also net of VAT.

Broadcast income is the one most sensitive the division in which a club plays. Even though Burnley had the benefit of parachute payments in 2015/16, broadcast income still rocketed from £30 million to £105 million.

The present domestic deal lasts until 2018/19, so don’t expect to see Burnley increase their broadcast income until the following season, unless they significantly improve their final league position (likely, and finishing 7th will bring in an extra £18 million compared to finishing 16th) or qualifying for Europe, which is presently possible. Manchester United made £40 million from winning the Europa League in 2017.

Commercial income nearly doubled to £10.4 million, mainly due to the club signing a new shirt sponsorship deal with Dafabet worth £2.5 million a year.

Cost

The main costs at a football club are player related, wages and transfer fee amortisation.

Burnley’s wage expenditure last season is noticeably different to when they were promoted in 2013/14. To a certain extent Burnley budgeted for relegation in 2014/15, and duly went down. They were then in a very strong position to pay relatively high wages in the Championship in 2015/16, and were able to retain key squad members and recruit the likes of Joey Barton to help the club go up as champions.

This time Burnley substantially increased the wage bill, and it was enough to ensure the club stayed up.

Even though the wage bill more than doubled, Burnley had the lowest wage bill in the Premier League in 2016/17.

Burnley players are however unlikely to be seen selling copies of The Big Issue to make ends meet, even as the lowest payers in the division, wages average £29,422 a week.

The riches of the Premier League TV deal meant that Burnley only paid out £51 in wages for every £100 of income. The club’s strategy for 2015 is also highlighted here when it was only £37 in wages. In the Championship over half the clubs pay out more in wages than they generate in income, leaving club owners to pay the rest of the bills.

Amortisation (skip this bit unless you want a quick and dirty accounting lecture) is how clubs deal with transfer fees in the profit and loss account. When a player signs for a club the transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. Therefore, when Burnley signed Robbie Brady for £13 million from Norwich on a 3½ year deal, the amortisation charge works out as £3.7 million a year (£13/3.5). The amortisation fee in the profit and loss account includes all players who have been signed for a fee (assuming they are still in their initial contract).

Burnley’s amortisation total of £22 million is double that of the previous year, but also tellingly four times that of the club’s last Premier League season. This again suggests the club was using their 2014/15 season in that division as an ‘air shot’, effectively budgeting for relegation and anything other than that was a bonus.

Burnley’s total amortisation in 2016/17 but still one of the lowest in the division. This is partially due to the club’s recruitment of hardworking players such as Ashley Barnes for £300,000, who according to the bellend element of his former club Brighton, was only Sunday league standard.

Profits and losses

Profits are income less costs. Burnley made a lot of profit in 2016/17. This was lower than their previous season in the Premier League due to, as we have already seen, the Clarets in 2014/15 paying relatively low wages and spending little in the transfer market.

Operating profits are income less the running costs of the club (wages, maintenance, insurance, amortisation etc. and they are before deducting interest and promotion costs and player sale profits. In 2016/17 this worked out as £26 million, or £500,000 a week. The previous season the club lost £3.6 million, and this was before paying out over £13 million in promotion bonuses.

Under Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, Premier League clubs can make a maximum FFP loss of £105 million over three years. Burnley clearly have little to fear in this regard.

Player trading

The accountants treat player trading in a weird way in the financials. We’ve already shown that when a player is signed, his transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. When the player is sold, the profit is shown immediately, and it based on the player’s accounting value, not the original transfer fee.

This creates erratic and volatile figures in the profit and loss account.

If we instead focus on the actual purchase and sales, the following arises

The above table shows that over the last five years Burnley have bought players for £82.5 million and generated sales of £22.3 million, a net cost of £60.2 million over the period.

Burnley’s spending in 2016/17 was a record sum for the club, but pales into insignificance in relation to the big Manchester and London clubs.

Debts to and from the club

Burnley didn’t sell many players before the 2017/18 window, and so were only owed £1.7 million by other clubs for players at 30 June 2017.

The club did owe other clubs nearly £16 million for player transfers, but this is chicken feed compared to the likes of Manchester United who owe over £180 million.

Perhaps more importantly the club is debt free, with no borrowings from either banks or the club owners.

Summary

Burnley have shown that a club can match some of the bigger spenders in the division in terms of wages and player transfers, and still stay in the Premier League.

The way they have pushed on this season, through hard work and superb defending, gives hope to others within the ‘Other 14’. They are guaranteed another season in the top division and about £125 million in TV income this season, which Sean Dyche can use in the summer transfer market.

Unfashionable yes, underrated certainly, but they are in the top half of the division on merit, and with a potential European campaign to look forward to next season.

Based on the financials for 2016/17, the club is worth a total of about £350 million using the Markham Multivariate Model. This figure looks a little top heavy, but even so it shows the attraction of the Premier League to investors who might want to risk their money in a club that looks after the pennies and can still win plenty of matches.

Data Set

Huddersfield Town: The Model

Must confess to having a huge soft spot for Yorkshire’s leading football club, Huddersfield Town. The locals are friendly, one of their fans runs the funniest football website on t’internet in http://www.htfc-world.com/ , they sell any remaining pies and burgers for £1 at the end of matches to fans, the club is owned by a local lad who clearly loves his club (and isn’t a Billy Bigbollocks), they are not managed by Neil Warnock AND they were promoted last season on merit, relatively under the radar. Did they achieve promotion last season on a shoestring or is that a Yorkshire myth? Let’s look…

Summary of key figures (Huddersfield Town Association Football Club Limited

Income £15.8 million (up 40%)

Broadcasting income £7.5 million (up 54%)

Wages £16.5 million (up 32%)

Loss before player sales £9.0 million (up 7%)

Player purchases £6.6 million

Player sales £1.3 million

Borrowings £53.1 million (Thanks to Uncle Dean!)

Final Position: Promoted via the playoffs to the Premier League.

Income

In the Championship there is effectively two divisions, effectively split between those clubs that do and do not receive parachute payments.

Huddersfield’s overall income was in the bottom quarter of Championship teams in 2016/17. Talk to a Yorkshireman, and they will tell you it’s not about spending money, but spending it wisely that matters, and the Terriers are a textbook example of how to do just that.

The above tables shows the income of all Championship clubs apart from  Newcastle (surely Mike Ashley has nothing to hide?) for 2016/17.

Additionally Barnsley are a pain in the butt as they used a legal loophole to avoid showing their profit and loss account (although they did make a profit of over £10 million last season, mainly due to the sell on clause when John Stones was sold by Everton to Manchester City).

Most clubs are showing higher income than in the previous season. The average income of the 22 clubs that have reported to date is £28.6 million. This compares to an average of £22.9 million the previous season.

Huddersfield therefore were promoted despite earning just over half of the average income for a club in the division, which is an incredible achievement.

The main reason for the increase in overall income in the Championship is due to a combination of higher parachute payments, a new TV deal in the Premier League, which drips down to the Championship in what are called ‘Solidarity Payments and having ‘big’ clubs in the shape of Newcastle and Villa relegated from the Premier League.

Championship clubs earn about £4.3 million a year from solidarity payments, plus their earnings from the Football League TV deal which are worth a minimum of a further £2 million. Championship clubs also pick up £100,000 for each home game broadcast on Sky, and £10,000 for each away game.

The English Football League (EFL) negotiated a flat percentage of all future TV deals with the Premier League (PL) a couple of years ago. This at the time seemed to be a great deal, but subsequently the PL sold its domestic rights for 10% less in 2019-22 than the current three-year arrangement generates.

Like all clubs Huddersfield earn their income from three sources, matchday, broadcasting and commercial/sponsorship.

Huddersfield therefore had the fourth lowest (probably the fifth if the miserable sods at Barnsley had the decency to show the figures) matchday income total in the division, but still managed to be promoted. Which shows that size doesn’t’ necessarily matter, it’s what you do with it that counts (something I’ve been trying to persuade my slightly disappointed wife to buy into for years).

Despite a playoff match at home and a Wembley appearance, there was no change to Town’s matchday income for the season. This was due to a combination of low ticket prices which contributed to average attendances rising to over 20,000, and the club keeping with the tradition of giving their share of the Wembley receipts to the losing playoff team, in this case the division’s dullest club Reading. This also explains why Reading’s matchday income increased by 86% in 2016/17.

The decision by chairman Dean Hoyle to cut ticket prices meant that the club only generated £155 per fan for the season, or £6.73 per match.

Hoyle’s benevolence contrasts with clubs such as Spurs, who next season will be charging a minimum price for a season ticket of £799 and an average price of about £1051 to watch the club at the ‘new’ White Hart Lane.

Town’s broadcast income was up 41% to £7.9 million. The baseline figure for clubs in the Championship is about £6.3 million, plus an additional £100,000 for every home, and £10,000 for every away game that is broadcast live on Sky. A combination of some local derby games, making the playoffs and attractive football meant that Huddersfield were popular with Sky in 2016/17

The impact of parachute payments for the top six clubs in the chart is very evident. Recently relegated Norwich earned £6.80 from broadcasting for every pound earned by Huddersfield.

Huddersfield’s commercial income rose by an impressive 57% to £5.2 million. The combination of higher matchday attendances and the club’s high league position helped when negotiating deals with commercial partners.

Costs

The main costs at a football club are player related, wages and transfer fee amortisation (accounting nerd alert!).

After years of relative caution, wages increased by over 30% in 2016/17. This was due to a combination of better players on better contracts, as well as having to pay win bonuses more regularly than in prior years.

The club’s basic wage bill was one of the lowest in the division.

On top of the wage bill shown above, the club also paid out £11.9 million in ‘promotion costs’ at the end of the season. Most of this cost will be bonuses (thoroughly deserved in our view) to David Wagner and his squad for the trememdous achievement in reaching the ‘promised land’ ( © All Lazy Journalists and Radio Five Live professional twat Alan Green).

Whilst Town’s basic wage bill is low by Championship standards (the average was £26.4 million in 2016/17), they still managed to pay out £104 in wages for every £100 of income during the season, and have had wages bills that exceeded income for many years.

If we factor in promotion bonuses too, then the club paid out £180 in wages for every £100 of income in 2016/17, a price all Town fans will no doubt will say was worth paying (especially as it was Dean Hoyle who paid it, the club paid out £899 in wages (including promotion bonuses) for every £100 of matchday income, or to put it another way, for every £1 in wages, the fans paid 11 pence directly).

Amortisation (skip this bit unless you want a quick and dirty accounting lecture) is how clubs deal with transfer fees in the profit and loss account. When a player signs for a club the transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract.

Therefore, when Huddersfield signed Christopher Schindler, the German defender with the speech impediment in 2016 for a then record £1.8 million on a three year contract the amortisation charge was £600,000 a year for three years (£1.8m/3). Whilst not a huge fee by divisional standards he did help lift Town to the Premier League (you’re fired…Ed).

The amortisation fee in the profit and loss account includes all players who have been signed for a fee (assuming they are still in their initial contract).

Huddersfield’s total amortisation charge rise significantly in 2016/17 but was still one of the lowest in the division. This is partially due to the club’s excellent recruitment of loan players in the shape of Aaron Mooy and Izzy Brown, further evidence of being sensible with money instead of just spunking it away spending it for the sake of it, such as in the case of Aston Villa who spent over £80 million on players in 2016/17 and had a subsequent amortisation charge of nearly £24 million.

If the amortisation costs are added to wages, then total player costs (including bonuses) for Huddersfield in 2016/17 were £196 for every £100 of income. This shows that the cost of promotion is ridiculously high (it cost fellow promoted club Brighton £160 in player costs for every £100 of income) to get into the Premier League.

The other major cost for Town is that of the stadium. This is linked to the number of games paid and fans attending. In 2016/17 this was £875,000. The club are tenants until at least 2043, which is nearly a quarter to nine in old money.

Profits and losses

Profits (or more commonly for non-Premier League football clubs losses) are income less costs. The bad news for Huddersfield is that the club lost a lot of money last season from day to day trading.

The good news is that they were promoted, so who cares?

Operating losses are income less the running costs of the club (wages, maintenance, insurance, amortisation etc. and they are before deducting interest and promotion costs and player sale profits. In 2016/17 this worked out as £9 million, or £172,000 a week. This is 7% more than the previous season.

Selling players helps to cushion these losses, but there is no guarantee that this will take place on a regular basis.

The above chart shows that Town did well in 2013 in selling Jordan ‘Where’s the nearest branch of Greggs’ Rhodes to Blackburn in 2013 and Jacob Butterfield to Derby in 2016.

Under FFP rules, Championship clubs can make a maximum FFP loss of £39 million over three years in the Championship. Huddersfield have a pre-tax loss of just £28 million over the three-year period.

Additionally, some costs, such as promotion bonuses, infrastructure, academy and community schemes, are excluded from the FFP calculations. Huddersfield had a category two academy, which costs about £1.5 million a year to run according to our sources, so this, combined with other allowable costs and player sales, means that Huddersfield were well within the FFP limit for the three years ending June 2017.

Under Premier League FFP rules a club can lose £105 million over three years and still be within the limits. The good news for Town is it looks increasingly that they’ll be in the Premier League for at least two of those seasons.

Player trading

The accountants treat player trading in a weird way in the financials. We’ve already shown that when a player is signed, his transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. When the player is sold, the profit is shown immediately, and it based on the player’s accounting value, not the original transfer fee.

This creates erratic and volatile figures in the profit and loss account.

If we instead focus on the actual purchase and sales, the following arises

The above table shows that over the last five years Huddersfield have bought players for £15.7 million and generated sales of £19.8 million, a net income of £4.1 million over the period.

This allows Town fans to say one word to those who claim that you have to buy your way out of the Championship with player signings and high wages, and that one word is ‘bollocks’.

When you look at spending in the Championship in 2016/17, total spending was £356 million, and some clubs spent ten times as much as Town and did bog all apart from provide chuckles in relation to Ross McCormack, Aston Villa’s £12 million signing from Fulham, missing training because the fat fuck couldn’t be arsed his security gates wouldn’t work at his swanky new home in the Midlands.

Debts to and from the club

Town don’t show how much is owed in respect of player transfers, which is a shame. The club are owed £6.3 million, of which £2.5 million is for deferred tax (don’t ask), so there’s not a lot left for sums owing in relation to players.

Short terms creditors increased from £48 million to £75 million. The majority of this is owed to Dean Hoyle, who has lent the club nearly £53 million interest free, which qualifies him for ‘very nice man’ status in West Yorkshire, which is about as high as praise ever gets.

In addition, there’s a sum of £16 million for ‘other creditors’ which we suspect is in respect of player transfers such as Tom Ince. Huddersfield were quick out of the blocks in the summer 2017 and owed money for signings very early in the transfer window.

Summary

Huddersfield have shown that a club can beat the big spenders in the division in terms of players transfers and wages. In doing so they give hope to others in a similar position compared to the wealthy in the Championship. The promise of £100 million a year in broadcast income causes some club owners to lose touch with reality in terms of trying to buy their way to the (ahem) Promised Land.

At the same time, they have been subsidised by the owner in recent years as the income generated hasn’t been enough to even pay the wages over the last five seasons, which highlights the impossible task of trying to achieve promotion whilst breaking even

Their biggest strength is also their biggest weakness. Dean Hoyle has put over £50 million into the club, and whilst Town won’t need his further support whilst in the Premier League, if they ever returned to the lower divisions we suspect they would struggle financially once parachute payments ran out. Provided nothing happens to DH there’s no problem, but if any Town fans see him about to cross the road, get out of the car and stop traffic until he’s reached the other side, you don’t want anything happening to him.

Data Set

Leeds United 2017: Cardboard box? You were lucky…

It may seem an unusual thing to say, but we feel a bit sorry for many Leeds fans. They’ve been shafted more times than Linda Lovelace in Deep Throat and were once so desperate for an owner they even cheered when Ken Bates took over the club.

2016/17 proved to Massimo Cellino’s reign of jaw dropping entertainment at Elland Road, as the colourful (crooked) Italian sold initially 50%, then the whole of the club to fellow Italian Andrea Radrizziani.

Fans were initially excited about the change of control, as Cellino had been tight with the cash (something that most Yorkshire folk would usually approve of) during his time at the club.

Summary of key figures

Income £34.1 million (up 13%)

Broadcasting income £7.6 million (up 45%)

Wages £20.7 million (up 14%)

Loss before player sales £8.8 million (up 26%)

Player purchases £6.8 million

Player sales £9.0 million

Borrowings £25.1 million

Income

In the Championship the amount of total income is effectively split between those clubs that do and do not receive parachute payments.

Leeds generated the highest earnings of the non-parachute payment receiving clubs, but this was not enough to get the club into a playoff position, although Brighton and Huddersfield, both of whom were not in receipt of parachute payments, were promoted, and Sheffield Wednesday made the playoffs.

Only Newcastle (surely Mike Ashley has nothing to hide?) and recently sold Barnsley have yet to announce their results for 2016/17. Most clubs are showing higher income than in the previous season. The average income of the 22 clubs that have reported to date is £28.6 million. This compares to an average of £22.9 million the previous season.

The main reason for the increase in overall income is due to a combination of higher parachute payments, a new TV deal in the Premier League, which drips down to the Championship in what are called ‘Solidarity Payments. Championship clubs earn about £4.3 million a year from solidarity payments, plus their earnings from the Football League TV deal which are worth a minimum of a further £2 million. Championship clubs also pick up £100,000 for each home game broadcast on Sky, and £10,000 for each away game.

The English Football League (EFL) negotiated a flat percentage of all future TV deals with the Premier League (PL) a couple of years ago. This at the time seemed to be a great deal, but subsequently the PL sold its domestic rights for 10% less in 2019-22 than the current three-year arrangement generates.

Like all clubs Leeds earn their income from three sources, matchday, broadcasting and commercial/sponsorship.

Leeds have shown growth in the all three income areas, but to give some context, their income of £34.1 million is still nearly £8 million less than their final season in the Premier League in 2003/4, when income was £41.9 million.

Matchday income in 2016/17 was up 24%, as the average attendance increased by 6,000 to 27,698 as the club just failed to reach the Championship playoffs. Cellino’s promise of a 25% reduction in season ticket prices for the following season if the club failed to reach the playoffs also contributed to this increase. This could have a knock-on effect on matchday income for 2017/18.

The club have kept prices relatively static for a few years and generated £367 per fan from matchday sales.

Leeds therefore had the third largest matchday income total in the division, although we anticipate this falling to fourth when Newcashley United finally publish their results.

Broadcast income was up 45% to £7.6 million. The baseline figure for clubs in the Championship is about £6.3 million, plus an additional £100,000 for every home, and £10,000 for every away game that is broadcast live on Sky. Leeds are always popular with Sky as they generate decent viewing figures.

The impact of parachute payments for the top six clubs in the chart is very evident. Recently relegated Norwich earned £7.50 from broadcasting for every £1 earned by non-parachute payment clubs.

Leeds commercial income fell slightly but is still an impressive £16.4 million. This figure is distorted to a degree since 2015, when Massimo Cellino threw one of his hissy fits and took the catering income in house (it had previously been outsourced), which was responsible for nearly all of the increase from 2015 to 2016 in this area.

Costs

The main costs at a football club are player related, wages and transfer fee amortisation.

Leeds wages increased by 14% in 2016/17, as new contracts for existing players plus some fresh signings increased the costs.

Leeds wage bill places it in the bottom third of clubs in the Championship in 2016/17. Whilst it won’t surprise fans that clubs in receipt of parachute payments are paying out big money still in player wages, we suspect a few Yorkshire eyebrows will be raised when they see their club behind the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City and Birmingham (although with ‘Triffic’ Harry Redknapp in charge of the latter for a while in 2016/17, perhaps not so surprised by that club paying out more money to players).

For a club in the Championship to be paying wages that are effectively the same as five seasons previously is unusual. Most clubs get sucked into the vortex of trying to attract new players with more money and this becomes self-perpetuating.

Leeds paid out £61 in wages for every £100 in income. This was the second lowest ratio in the Championship, and Reading’s would have been far higher had they not been in receipt of parachute payments. This figure has fallen significantly under Cellino, partly due to the increase in catering income figure but also because he was clearly keen on keeping costs as low as possible with a view to selling the club to a new owner.

Over half the clubs in the Championship pay out more money in wages than they generate in income. This is under the auspices of Financial Fair Play (FFP). It is scary to think what would happen if FFP didn’t exist.

Amortisation is how clubs deal with transfer fees in the profit and loss account. When a player signs for a club the transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. Therefore, when Leeds signed Kemar Roofe from Oxford United for £3 million on a four year contract the amortisation charge was £750,000 a year for four years (£3m/4). The amortisation fee in the profit and loss account therefore includes all players who have been signed for a fee (assuming they are still in their initial contract).

Leeds’s total amortisation charge has risen steadily in recent years, reflecting the brakes slowly being removed from the transfer budget. They are in the top half of the division in relation to this cost, but some way behind clubs with parachute payments.

If the amortisation costs are added to wages, then total player costs for Leeds in 2016/17 were £76 for every £100 of income. This again suggests the club is relatively tight (no doubt Leeds fans will say ‘careful’ rather than ‘tight’ in terms of spending whatever it takes in terms of player investment to get back into the Premier League. There are many clubs who are spending £140 plus on this area.

One cost that Leeds have which is not common to all clubs is rent. The club paid £2.1 million in rent during 2016/17 for Elland Road and other facilities. The club did say that they had repurchased Elland Road on 28 June 2017, but there is no sign of this in the accounts or the strategic review of the year which was signed off by Radrizzani on 2nd March 2018.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/40433193

A screenshot of a cell phone Description generated with very high confidence

A further look at the club website reveals that Greenfield Investment Pte Ltd, also owned by Radrizzani, and based in Hong Kong (we think) , are the actual owners of Elland Road, so it’s not quite as transparent as it initially seems. Greenfield are themselves owned by Aser Group pte Ltd in Singapore.

How much rent is being charged by this company to Leeds United Football Club Limited has not been revealed, however a note to the account suggests that rent will fall from over £2.1 million a year to about £760,000, which could mean extra money for the manager to spend on players and wages.

Leeds sources suggest that the rent is for Thorpe Arch rather than Elland Road itself.

Profits and losses

Profits (or more commonly for non-Premier League football clubs losses) are income less costs. The bad news for Leeds is that the club lost a lot of money last season from day to day trading.

The good news is that they managed to sell Lewis Cook to Bournemouth, which brought in a profit of nearly £9 million, which offset the operating losses.

Operating losses are income less the running costs of the club (wages, maintenance, insurance, amortisation etc. and they are before deducting interest costs and player sale profits. In 2016/17 this worked out as £8.8 million, or £169,000 a week. This is slightly higher than the previous season, but still a lot of money to find on a regular basis. These losses are before taking into consideration the one-off cost player write down of £332,000, for someone who was signed for a fee but subsequently turned out to be a bit shite Christian Benteke. We don’t know enough about Leeds to know who the player(s) might be, but Leeds fans will no doubt have a few suggestions.

The previous season Leeds had one-off costs of nearly £4 million in legal and other fees as Cellino fell out with kit suppliers Kappa, previous employees, Sky TV, the Football League and anyone else who didn’t share the enlightened views of the Italian tax evader.

Being in the Championship is tough financially, and this is reflected in Leeds losses over the past few years.

Their total losses for the last five seasons are nearly £56 million, and this excludes one off costs of £6.4 million during that period too.

Fortunately for Leeds the club have managed to sell players on a regular basis at a profit of £25 million during this period, but it still leaves a substantial loss.

Under FFP rules, Championship clubs can make a maximum FFP loss of £39 million over three years in the Championship. Leeds have a pre-tax loss of just £10.2 million over the three-year period, helped by profits on player sales of £21.5 million over that period.

Additionally, some costs, such as infrastructure, academy and community schemes, are excluded from the FFP calculations. Leeds have a category two academy, which costs about £1.5 million a year to run according to our sources, so this, combined with other allowable costs, means that Leeds easily are within the FFP limit for the three years ending June 2017.

Assuming that Leeds have not gone crazy in terms of higher wage deals in 2017/18, they should be in a much stronger position than most clubs in the division in the forthcoming transfer windows.

This is because many clubs have spent big and gambled on promotion this season (2017/18) and will have to scale back investment in the next few windows to ensure FFP compliance. There is a caveat here, this will all depend on the extent to which the owner is willing to back the Leeds manager in the transfer market during the next couple of windows.

Player trading

The accountants treat player trading in a weird way in the financials. We’ve already shown that when a player is signed, his transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. When the player is sold, the profit is shown immediately, and it based on the player’s accounting value, not the original transfer fee.

This creates erratic and volatile figures in the profit and loss account.

If we instead focus on the actual purchase and sales, the following arises

Over the last five years Leeds have bought players for £26.3 million and generated sales of £27.1 million. This is before the sale of Chris Wood to Burnley in summer 2017.

If Leeds are promoted to the Premier League there are additional transfer fees of £6.3 million payable, as well as player bonuses of over £16 million.

Debts to and from the club

Trying to make out the extent of Leeds debts is tricky. The easy bit is player transfers, where the club is owed £7.8 million (likely to be Bournemouth for Cook) and owe other clubs about £3.9 million.

The club is owed a mysterious £2.3 million in the form of ‘other debtors’ that the club is pursuing through the courts. Who this party is we don’t know, although Leeds fans will no doubt be able to point the finger at the party involved, and that finger is mainly being pointed at former owners GFH, who apparently have some contested debts. Whilst the outcome of the dispute is uncertain, one this is guaranteed, the lawyers will make plenty of brass from the dispute.

The club borrowed £16.5 million in the year, mainly from the owner, although £5 million of this was converted into shares. Total borrowings look to be about £25 million of which £14.5 million is to the owner.

Summary

The Cellino regime of chaos ending was a positive for Leeds in 2016/17. New owner Andrea Radrizzani had a huge amount of initial goodwill which has evaporated to a degree as the club has dropped from top of the table to nowhere in the past few months. This, coupled with the new club crest which turned the club into a laughing stock has meant that the upcoming summer is an opportunity to rebuild bridges with the fan base.

The good news is that the club is in an excellent position to invest heavily in the player market due to being significantly under the FFP loss limit. The big question is whether the owner will be prepared to dig deep and spend to bring in the calibre of player required for Leeds to be promotion contenders in 2018/19.

Data Set

Blackburn Rovers: Look what you could have won

Key Figures

Rovers became the first Premier League winners to be relegated to the third tier in May 2017, and their annual accounts aren’t going to put a smile on fans’ faces either.

Income £14.9 million (down 32%)

Wages £22.0 million (down 13%)

Loss before player sales £13.7 million (down 17%)

Player purchases £1.3 million

Player sales £11.1 million

Borrowings £112.8 million

The club was acquired by Venkateshwara Hatcheries Pvt Ltd in October 2010, so this analysis concentrates on the club’s finances under their ownership.

Income

2016/17 was the first season Blackburn did not have the benefit of parachute payments.

Not all clubs have announced their results for 2016/17 yet, but most clubs are showing higher income than in the previous season. The average income of the 17 clubs that have reported to date (which excludes some big hitters such as Newcastle and Dirty Leeds) is £31 million.

In 2015/16 the average for a Championship club was £23 million. The main reason for the increase is due to a combination of higher parachute payments, a new TV deal in the Premier League, which drips down to the Championship in what are called ‘Solidarity Payments. Championship clubs earn about £4.3 million a year from solidarity payments, plus their earnings from the Football League TV deal which are worth a minimum of a further £2 million.

Like all clubs Rovers earn their income from three sources, matchday, broadcasting and commercial/sponsorship.

The table shows how much Rovers benefitted from being in the Premier League in the first couple of seasons under the Venky’s ownership, but also how much the club was reliant on parachute payments for the next four seasons.

Matchday income in 2016/17 was down 6%, as crowds fell by an average of 1,500 to 12,600 as the club slid to relegation.

Rovers are in the bottom quartiles in terms of matchday income and combined with no parachute payments, in the era of FFP this puts them at a disadvantage when competing for players.

Broadcast income was down 50% to £6.7 million. This was due to the Rovers’ four-year receipt of parachute payments finishing the previous season, combined with the club rarely appearing on Sky at Ewood, which is worth £100,000 a match. As a consequence, the club has the second lowest broadcast income total in the division.

The impact of parachute payments for the top six clubs in the chart is very evident. Norwich earned £7.50 from broadcasting for every £1 earned by Rovers.

Things will be far worse in League One, as solidarity payments are only worth about £650,000 in this division.

Commercial income fell only by 3%, which, given Rovers relative lack of appeal to commercial partners, is probably a reasonable effort. What is unclear is how much of this is from the club’s holding company Venky’s London Limited.

The accounts do contain a mysterious note tucked away on page 29 of the accounts, by which time most right-minded people will have lost all interest.

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The note shows that Rovers received £3.7 million from the parent company, if this is included in commercial income then there’s not a lot of money being generated from other commercial relationships.

Overall broadcasting income is still the biggest contributor to Rovers’ coffers, although it is not contributing three quarters of the club’s income as when the club was in the Premier League.

Costs

The main costs at a football club are player related, wages and transfer fee amortisation.

Rovers wages have more than halved since they were in the last in the Premier League, but the rate of decrease is not as fast as the club’s fall in income.

Wages fell by 13% and are quite low by Championship standards, where the average for last season was about £27.1 million. Clubs such as Sheffield Wednesday, Brighton and Forest, all of whom also do not receive parachute payments, paid out significantly higher sums for wages last season.

Whilst Rovers’ wage bill is towards the bottom of the scale in the Championship, they are still paying out a lot of money compared to the club’s income.

The above graph shows how much the club has been paying out in wages compared to income. In 2016/17 Rovers paid out £147 in wages for every £100 of income. This means that the owners, the Venkys, whilst as popular in Lancashire as a fart in a spacesuit, were not only subsidising the wages to players, but also paying for all the other costs incurred by the club too, such as ground maintenance, electricity for the floodlights and insurance etc.

Since acquiring the club Rovers have generated £228 million of income but spent £248 million in wages under the Venky’s.

The Championship is a car crash of a division, and in 2015/6 the wages/income ratio was 101% for the division as a whole.

It will give Rovers fans little solace in the year they were relegated, but at present they stand at the top of the wages control % table for 2016/17.

Brighton, who are second in the table, had £9 million of promotion bonuses in their wage total which distorted the figure, and also had the enjoyment of being promoted last season.

Amortisation is how clubs deal with transfer fees in the profit and loss account. When a player signs for a club the transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. Therefore, when Rovers signed Jordan Rhodes for £8 million from Huddersfield on a five year contract the amortisation charge of £1.6 million a year for five years (£8m/5). The amortisation fee in the profit and loss account therefore includes all players who have been signed for a fee (assuming they are still in their initial contract).

Wolves total amortisation charge was £0.7 million, a decrease of 2/3 on the previous season and less than a tenth of the initial years under the Venky’s.

Whilst some will see this as prudent cost cutting, it also suggests that the club have been signing players at the bargain bin level, which means that the chances of selling them at a profit is also diminished.

Losses

Losses are income less costs. The bad news for Rovers is that the club lost a lot of money last season from day to day trading. The good news is that they sold Grant Hanley (to promoted Newcastle) and Shane Duffy (to promoted Brighton) at a combined profit of £10.4 million to offset the day to day losses, which will help the club in terms of FFP compliance.

Operating losses are income less the running costs of the club (wages, maintenance, insurance, amortisation etc. and they are before deducting interest costs. In 2016/17 this worked out as £13.7 million, or £263,000 a week.

In the seven seasons under the Venky’s, two of which were in the Premier League, and four of which the club were in receipt of parachute payments, Rovers have lost £136 million.

The club have managed to sell players on a regular basis at a profit of £38 million during this period, but it still leaves a substantial loss.

Under FFP rules, Championship clubs can make a maximum FFP loss of £39 million over three years in the Championship. Rovers have a pre-tax loss of £25.9 million over the three year period, mainly due to gains on player sales of £30 million, which prevented them breaching FFP.

Fortunately, some costs, such as infrastructure, academy and community schemes, are excluded from the FFP calculations. Rovers have a category one academy, which costs about £5 million a year to run, so this, combined with other allowable costs, should ensure the club has some leeway in terms of meeting the FFP target.

In League One the FFP rules are different, with players wages being not allowed to exceed 60% of income, but the rules are slightly relaxed for relegated clubs.

Player trading

The accountants treat player trading in a weird way in the accounts. We’ve already shown that when a player is signed, his transfer fee is spread over the life of the contract. When the player is sold, the profit is shown immediately, and it based on the player’s accounting value, not the original transfer fee.

This creates erratic and volatile figures in the profit and loss account.

If we instead focus on the actual purchase and sales, the following arises

Under the Venky’s Rovers have bought players for £47 million and generated sales of £57 million. Whilst this has been good for FFP purposes, the chances of the production line of players that can be sold for substantial fees continuing is remote, as evidenced by a footnote to the financials for 2016/17.

The note shows that Rovers had no transfer income during the 2017/18 summer window.

Debt

When the Venky’s took over Rovers, the club had debts of £21 million. Since then the debts have increased nearly every year, and now stand at just under £113 million, and would have been far higher had it not been for player sales in the last two seasons.

Summary

Under the Venky’s, Rovers have both been relegated and squandered their parachute payments. From an independent observer’s perspective the decision making of the owners seems baffling. They seem happy to underwrite losses running into hundreds of thousands of pounds per week for no benefit, financial or in terms of brand awareness of their main business in Indian poultry.

At least Rovers time in League One looks like being a brief one, as losses would potentially increase given the lack of TV money their compared to the Championship. If the club is promoted, the financial strategy of the owners is best described as ‘unpredictable’. Will they do a Fosun at Wolves and go for broke to be promoted, or try to get Rovers on an even keel financially?

Data Set

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