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Liverpool, on Monday, announced its debt has increased by £21.8M ($32.7M) as "prolonged absence from the money-spinning Champions League takes its toll," according to Toby Davis of REUTERS. Liverpool's latest accounts show the club recorded a loss of £40.5M from Aug. 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012, and debts increased to £87.2M ($131M). The club said that the cost of rebuilding its squad during a period without European football "played a large part in the debt increase" and added that revenue "actually increased" by £5M ($7.5M) (REUTERS, 3/4). In London, Tony Barrett reported contributing factors to the increase in debt were "player installment payments plus exceptional payments" of just over £9.5M ($14M). Such payments include a stadium project, general restructuring and payoffs to "senior employees who left the club" (LONDON TIMES, 3/4). Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre said, "The key message for me is that we are continuing to transition to the point we have been working on for several years under this ownership -- which is to continue to improve revenues and manage our cost base effectively. The biggest cost base without doubt is player trading and player wages -- but these accounts demonstrate that we are still working hard to improve that." He added, "Nobody in a position of authority would say it is a good set of accounts where you lose money in any business (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 3/4).
LOOKING FOR HOPE: In London, David Conn reported the £40.5M loss followed a £49M loss the previous year, ending July 31, 2011. This period covered Fenway Sports Group's "first months since its takeover" from former owners -- U.S.-based Tom Hicks and George Gillett. If Liverpool repeats these figures next year, it would "fail the new regulations introduced by the Premier League," which limit annual losses to £35M ($52.8M) (GUARDIAN, 3/4). Also in London, Chris Bascombe reported FSG "has injected" £46.8M ($70.1M) of its own cash into the club "via a non-interest loan." Despite the debt increase, Liverpool's annual pre-tax loss "actually fell during this period" by £8.8M ($13.2M). There "is no doubt" FSG feels it remains in a period of damage limitation. However, the figures are "reflective of problems they inherited and the discomfort they expect the club to endure before they can reclaim top four territory." How these "enduring issues will be resolved without swift improvement on the pitch and a solution to the stadium issue is unclear." The greatest potential source of future revenue, however, is "extra seating capacity." However, there is "no suggestion the club is any closer to raising funds" to act upon its statement of intent to stay at Anfield (TELEGRAPH, 3/4).
NO PLAYER SELLING: In a separate piece, Barrett also reported Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers "will not come under financial pressure to sell players in the summer." Ayre said, "We won’t be selling anyone because of the financial position. If we’re selling anyone, it’ll be because they are deemed by the manager to be surplus to his requirements and, obviously, if that happens, we will be replacing them and bringing new players in, as we always do." Liverpool expects its next accounts to "reveal a much healthier picture," particularly because they will include the proceeds of a £20M- ($30M)-per-year kit sponsorship deal with Warrior (LONDON TIMES, 3/4).
Scottish Third Division club Rangers have reported an operating loss of £7M ($10.5M) although they said "extraordinary progress" has been made, according to the BBC. Figures for the last seven months of '12 reveal a pre-tax profit of £9.5M ($14.3M), "although that was down to a one-off accounting credit" of £20.5M ($30.9M). The club said that season ticket sales and average home league attendances "were among the highest" in the U.K. CEO Charles Green said he was in "awe" of the contribution supporters had made to the club. Green: "This has been a significant period in the club's history, in which vital steps were taken to ensure the survival and rebuilding of one of the U.K.'s most venerable football institutions." This is Rangers' first set of results since floating on the stock exchange at the end of last year (BBC, 3/4). The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported a further drop in overall operational costs is "expected as part of further cost-saving initiatives." The club expects to report an operating loss at year end "in accordance with the business plan and broader growth strategy." Chair Malcolm Murray reflected on "a period of extraordinary progress for the club." Murray: "These interim results cover the seven-month period to Dec. 31, 2012, and reflect the fact that the club is successfully rebuilding one of the U.K.'s most renowned football institutions. In my 30 years' investment experience, I have never seen a business move from the liquidation of one company to another's successful flotation in such a short space of time" (DAILY RECORD, 3/4).
Financial figures released showed EPL Aston Villa has cut its annual financial losses to £17.7M ($26.7M), according to Brett Gibbons of the BIRMINGHAM MAIL. Accounts for the year to the end of May revealed that the club "had managed to substantially reduce losses" by more than 50% from almost £54M ($81.5M) the previous year. Operating expenses "also went down" by £20.3M ($30.6M) to £138.4M ($208.8M). England internationals Ashley Young and Stewart Downing "were sold during this period" for a combined figure of around £35M ($52.8M) resulting in increased player trading profit of £8.1M ($12.2M) from £18.8M ($28.3M) to £26.9M ($40.6M). In addition Chair and club Owner Randy Lerner "waived interest on loans" totalling £107.1M ($161.7M) made by him to Villa, which created a one-time benefit to the club of £20.3M ($30.6M) (BIRMINGHAM MAIL, 3/1). In London, David Conn reported Aston Villa CFO Robin Russell said that the figures "demonstrated the club's efforts to become financially sustainable." Russell said, "Having appointed Paul Lambert as manager in June 2012, he is building a youthful, progressive first-team squad, and we continue to offer our season ticket holders and supporters some of the cheapest ticket prices in the Premier League" (GUARDIAN, 3/1).
Newly released accounts showed EPL West Ham Owners David Gold and David Sullivan have sunk a total of £35M ($52.8M) into the club since June '11, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The figures, which cover the year that West Ham spent in the League Championship before winning promotion back to the EPL through the play-offs, show that the club had a loss of £25.5M ($38.5M) (excluding one-off costs) in the year to May 31. The impact of relegation "meant a sharp fall in turnover" by £34.4M ($51.2M) to £46.2M ($69.7M), "mainly as a result of a reduction" of £26.5M ($40M) in centrally distributed TV and sponsorship money from the Premier League. Gold and Sullivan loaned the club a total of £32.2M ($48.6M) during the '11-12 season and the notes to the accounts indicate they had loaned another £3M ($4.5M) by the end of November (GUARDIAN, 3/4).
The Australian Rugby Union "will produce a surplus this year on the back of a financial windfall from the British and Irish Lions tour, but will go back into deficit over the next two years," according to Bret Harris of THE AUSTRALIAN. Observers expected the Lions tour to provide a financial panacea for Australian rugby, "but it will only offer temporary relief." As a result, new ARU CEO Bill Pulver is "conducting a review of the national governing body's operations and developing a strategic plan to create growth in the game," which involves Australia's Super Rugby franchises becoming financially independent. Pulver said, "We are predicting a surplus for 2013, which is a very good thing because we had a deficit in 2011 and a deficit in 2012. Part of it is getting our balance sheet back in order with some cash back in the business. Sadly, in terms of our long-range planning we are also forecasting a deficit in 2014 and 2015." He added, "One of my first challenges is to look at the cost base of the ARU and review where we are spending our money first of all with a view to getting rid of the deficit, but second of all to free up funds so we can invest in growth areas" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/5).