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In a recent Pride of West London Podcast (click on the link above), we discussed a number of issues relating to the running of the club including Brentford’s annual accounts, the progress on Lionel Road and how the Brentford new player scouting system worked.

One of the Beesotted crew ‘The Dutchman’ – a Director of Management Accounts for a large corporate company – took time off his holiday in Tenerife to look through the accounts and new stadium paperwork and report back to the assembled crew in the pub.

Also part of the pub conversation were  Billy Grant, Dave Lane and Nick Carthew and podcast guest Paul Grimes.

Many fans have asked Beesotted to give a breakdown of exactly what was discovered on surveying these document documents.

Below is a summary of what we found out.

Lots of assumptions have been made in doing these (simple) calculations. One big assumption is £50m in one year is £50m in another year –  not taking into consideration is what a £50m spend would mean in real terms down the line if you take into account interest that could have been earned otherwise and/or the return/losses that could have been received from high-returning investment schemes.

 

It should also be noted that the Brentford accounts term runs from June 30th to June 30th each year – so these figures don’t exactly reflect each season. Also it is interesting that – in making comparisons to other clubs – the accounts Brentford have submitted seem to be more detailed than other football clubs.

Summary

  • £16.7m – Brentford loss for 2014/15 year – A 91% increase on last year
  • £9.9m – Brentford’s turnover for 2014/15 year – A 124% increase on last year
  • £4.1m –  Football League and FA as ‘drip down’ money (to keep the lower league clubs ‘happy’). The biggest contribution to Brentford’s turnover
  • £3.1m – Ticket sales: The next highest income
  • £250k – TV money
  • £17.7m – Wages. Up from £10m in our Division 1 Promotion year (2013/14)
  • £75m – Matthew Benham’s investment in Brentford at the time these accounts were published. This includes around £25m invested in the stadium project (the up-to-date figure is reputed to be closer to £90m)
  • 10,700 – Average crowd. Up from 7,700 the previous year
    5,600 – Season Tickets. Up from 3100 in previous year (promotion year)
  • £2.5m – The valuation of Capital Court (the final bit of land needed to be purchased to start the Lionel Rd construction)
  • £6.25m – Brentford’s offer for Capital Court
  • £25m – Brentford’s contribution to the Lionel Rd project
  • £45m – Brentford’s possible final financial commitment to the Lionel Rd project (£20m more than initially tabelled)

Brentford’s Accounts

brentford turnover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brentford made a loss of £16.7m for 2014/15 year. This was a 91% increase on last year.

Brentford’s turnover for 2014/15 year was £9.9m. This was a 124% increase on last year. So despite a huge upturn in turnover, our losses have nearly doubled.

A large proportion of the loss was for money paid out bonuses for finishing 5th. The Dutchman pointed out this was sound business sense in terns of incentivisation even though we didn’t quite get where we ultimately wanted to go.

However, as The Dutchman and Paul Grimes pointed out later, this pay structure also has it’s drawbacks. Despite the team doing well and paying out huge bonuses, unfortunately this was still not enough to keep the best players lured by offers from clubs with deeper pockets.

Also, if clubs were able to offer twice and three times the wages to certain players up front WITHOUT without the need to get decent results to bolster their wage packet – and with a promotion bonuses thrown in for good measure – this could prove to be  a problem for Brentford trying to keep hold of their best players.

Of the £9.9m turnover, the largest income was £4.1m which came from the Football League and FA as ‘drip down’ money (mainly from the huge TV deal) – funds paid to lower league clubs to keep them happy.

Ticket sales are the next highest income at £3.1m

There is a view that broadcast money is the saviour in the Championship. However, TV money actually accounted for less than £250k.

Brentford’s commercial income was less than £1m

(see chart above for the full list)

Wages went up from £10m in our Division 1 Promotion year (2013/14) to £17.7m in our Championship playoff year (2014/15). These wages covered 32 admin staff and 133 players and player-connected staff (coaching, agents etc)

Matthew Benham’s investment in the club was £75m at the time the accounts were submitted (rumour is the figure is closer to £90m at the moment). Whichever way you may look at it, there is no doubt that the club is quite simply is running off the back of his investment.

Taking a simple calculation and making a few assumptions, if the club were to operate the same as it did in the last period – spending no more or no less – Matt Benham would have to continue to put in £15m every year to keep things ticking.

If, for example, we were to sell £20m worth of players and buy £10m worth, he would then reduce his input to £5m in that year.

Add this to the £90m already put in.

Even if we moved to Lionel Road with a bigger capacity, corporate hospitality money etc, The Dutchman estimated that we could still be looking at losses of between £6m and £8m a year if the club continued running in the same way.

To cover these losses each year, the club would either have to ask Matthew Benham to fund the deficit or find income from elsewhere to cover the shortfall (eg. selling players, other unexpected revenue).

It was acknowledged, however, that these are the gambles that clubs make to try and get to the Premier League. Just one season in the Premier League – where each team will receive around £130m – would wipe out all these debts.

But it’s a big gamble. And for every 3 teams that makes it to the Premier League, there are 21 teams that don’t make it.

Paul Grimes noted that Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton were not competing for Premier League action last season whereas Brentford and Ipswich where but aren’t this season. However, they have made huge investments to ensure that this season they are now competing. An analysis of their accounts over three seasons may show what we would have to do to compete with them.

There is an argument to say Brentford are unable to pay players £30k a week whereas Sheffield Wednesday can. So even accepting the fact that there will be increased costs, we still won’t be in the same spending league as teams like Sheffield Wednesday.

Billy Grant noted Brentford were very close to breaking the FInancial Fair Play (FFP) rules as the club’s spend was very high in relation to their income in the season they went up to the Championship (for a simple explanation of FFP check this link ).

To cut a long story short, FFP states that Championship teams can lose up to £13m over one season as long as the owner is injecting cash into the club.

If there is no cash injection, maximum permitted losses are £5m a season.

The ‘FFP period’ changes from next season (2016/17) from 1 year to 3. Authorities will now be looking at losses over 3 seasons with an average loss of £13m per season permitted.

What we are no doubt going to see over the next few seasons is teams really going for it in year 1 and year 2 – spending like mad to get that Premier League status – then in the 3rd year, they will reel it in and try and come within the £39m acceptable accumulated loss level.

That’s lot of money to lose over 3 seasons if you are not successful.

This current season (2015/16), Brentford have the second lowest attendance in The Championship at 10,219 – 2,500 less than the next highest team Huddersfield Town (12,596). As FFP is linked to income, our cash injection is much much lower than other teams. We are not making huge amounts of money in the bigger scheme of things other than on the gate so this will always be an issue for Brentford.

How about raising ticket prices or taking into account the increased crowds in Lionel Rd to raise income?

If the club raised the ticket prices by say 20% (a huge rise) making a £30 match ticket £36 and a £350 season ticket £420, the addition in income would be £600k. Is it worth the aggravation when you look at the bigger picture??

If crowds doubled from 10k to 20k (which is the capacity of Lionel Rd), assuming the prices remained the same, gate income would double to £6.1m – this would mean an additional £3.1m. In addition, there would be an increase in commercial and other income. But when the club is losing £15m in one year, you can see where the problems lie.

Paul Grimes picked up on the fact that we have made around (and this is a rough estimate) £20m on transfers this season (sale of Andre Gray, Tarkowski etc) which will be reflected in the 2015/16 accounts. His opinion was that maybe people should look at the £20m as being money already spent getting us to where we are as opposed to additional income we will have received.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that no money will be spent in the summer.

It just gives us a touch of reality as to where the club is at the moment.

Lionel Road Stadium Build

Brentford offered £6.25 million for Capital Court – the final piece of land Brentford needed to acquire to start the construction work. A number of deals were aborted at that price with the land being valued at between £1.7m and £2.5m. The current figure being banded about is £2.5m.

The £6.5m is what Brentford offered to avoid the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) process and speed up the deal.

The company owning Capital Court (FIL) felt that the deal was worth £8.5m to them. They also tried to make the case that the new ground could be build without Brentford buying Capital Court.

Brentford won the CPO ruling. So it now gone to a tribunal.

The view is that the tribunal will rule the price closer to the £2.5m than the £6.5m but it could take up to 2 years to resolve.

However, after 6 weeks Brentford are in principal free to start building while the price gets negotiated in the background. This can’t actually happen until the administrative process of acquiring the land has been completed and Willmott Dixon have raised the finance to build the flats.

The process.

Brentford buys the land.

Brentford get permission to build on the land.

Willmott Dixon raises the finance.

Willmott Dixon then develops a finished stadium and everything around it at their cost.

Willmott Dixon sells the flats at an agreed price- making a profit on the sales.

Brentford end up getting a stadium out of the deal.

Matthew Benham’s input into the stadium project is apparently £25m. That could possibly increase to £45m because of numerous delays, changes in design, lawyers costs, construction company raising finance etc.

On completion of the stadium, Wilmott Dixon will pay Brentford back £17.5m. However, they need to start building it first.

Without knowing the exact terms of the deal, what is a trifle unclear is – with regards the additional costs incurred – whether these costs becomes a Willmott Dixon responsibility, a shared cost or whether Brentford are landed with paying out an additional unbudgeted £20m.

Whichever way this ‘extra costs pie’ is cut, the whole analysis of Brentford’s financial position highlights the kind of finances that are needed just to keep the club in the game.

Billy Grant
@BillyTheBee99

Link to Accounts Brentford FC accounts