The recent termination of the football season has resulted in some financial stress around the divisions and our club will be no different fairly soon. We would like to stress that having recently hosted Celtic FC in the William Hill Scottish Cup that the club is not in any immediate danger.
The fact that we benefited from that financially successful cup run masks the underlying operations of the club. Subject to a number of factors that remain a risk, we expect to deliver a profit for the season, which will be our best result for many years. That is the positive side of where we are at the moment. It might seem odd in the circumstances, but with the benefit of government measures around the virus and support from sponsors, we will lose less money in the final three months of the financial year by not playing our final eight fixtures.
Each year the directors make decisions as to how much should be committed to the playing budget. Those decisions are based around assumptions of commercial income and donations as well as assumptions for other more predictable revenues. The last two years have seen losses of £93k in 2019 and £68k in 2018. Without a cup run and Covid-19 this year we would have lost somewhere in the region of £35k. All of these numbers are supported by substantial generous donations from a few individuals which would otherwise have resulted in far larger losses.
The club is unable to continue to sustain losses and therefore cannot maintain the playing budget without donations from supporters.
To set in context of the current squad costs, the club requires to fill a donations gap of approximately £110k if it wishes to retain the same level of expenditure into the next season. There are already some pledges received towards this and of course supporters are donating at the moment to support the club in general, however there remains a large shortfall.
The club has discussed with the manager the prospect of reducing the budget by around 22%. Even with that scale of reduction it still leaves a gap of £50k to be bridged which could result in a weaker squad.
At either the current level of player squad or at the reduced level, the requirement for donations is for every season going forward, just in exactly the same way it has been in the past from a few individuals. There are limited alternatives open to the club and it is now appropriate that supporters are given the opportunity to support maintaining the squad and ensuring that the club does not lose its League 1 status.
A separate update will advise what options are being considered and how supporters can help. We will also try to obtain additional clarity around the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the proposals for League reconstruction, both of which will make the upcoming season exceptional and financially challenging.
It is perhaps worth reiterating that there is no immediate stress, however it is important to address this in a constructive and collaborative manner so that we can make decisions in advance of season 2020-21.