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Scottish Football Finds New Financial Footing

Thu 6th Aug 2015 | Money & Finance

Scottish football has got its finances in order but desires a move to summer football according to the latest football survey by accountants and business advisers BDO LLP.

The annual survey of football finance directors, entitled ‘Investing for Success: football finances and commercial growth’, revealed that 100% of those surveyed in the Scottish Premiership (SP), were not raising funds by selling off future earnings such as advances on season tickets or media income or player transfer receivables.

Despite this new era of financial prudence, profitability still seems difficult to attain in Scotland with just one club stating that they would make a profit after player trading and depreciation.

Income streams remain subdued with a mixed picture across Scottish Premiership football. The clubs were fairly evenly divided between those who have experienced reduced takings from match tickets, catering, season tickets and sponsorship and those who stated that all of these income streams have improved over the year.

Three quarters of clubs stated that corporate entertaining has gone down over the last year.

Despite one Scottish Premiership club stating that their current owners are considering an exit within the next 12-18 months, generally, clubs are more optimistic about the forthcoming season with the majority believing that revenue will increase in 2015/16.

However, the biggest concerns for Scottish clubs in the coming season are falling attendances due to the state of the economy and inflexible players’ salaries.

Charles Barnett, professional sports group partner at BDO, commented: “It is clear that the financial lessons of the last decade which saw several Scottish football clubs go into administration have been learnt.

“There is a much greater understanding and will to ensure financially security in the years to come. Clubs know they cannot borrow now to fund future success and have responded accordingly.

“They are also much more aware of the need to develop new sources of income where possible.”

One potential source of new income derives from Scottish club’s desire to play in the summer. The BDO survey found that all of the Scottish clubs who responded said they were in favour of summer football whereas the response in England ranged from 12% in the FLC to 27% in FL1.

Charles commented: “The appetite for summer football in Scotland is apparent even accepting the relatively small number of Scottish Premiership clubs who responded to the survey.

“Not only might the quality of football improve on better playing conditions but the clubs who generally have to participate in the qualifying rounds for the Europa League and Champions League might also benefit from squads that are better prepared for these earlier rounds.”

Charles concluded: “However, as long as Scottish football doesn’t have that media funded financial safety net it must be creative in maximising existing income whilst generating new income streams.

“I think it may be frustrating in the short term for fans but in the long term Scottish football will be creating a viable and vital game which will be sustainable in the long term.”

Image: Action Images - Reuters / Russell Cheyne 

Posted by: Aaron Gourley

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