Blackpool FC’s 13/14 accounts reviewed

Here we are then. Another year, another set of accounts to pore over.

But first, a disclaimer:

Disclaimer: The comments made here are based on the financial statements for Blackpool Football Club Limited, Segesta Limited and Blackpool Football Club Hotel Limited for the year ending 31st May 2014. This article is merely seeking to cover the release of these accounts in a fair and factual manner. Should any party deem any part of the following information to be inaccurate, please contact us on theteam@measuredprogress.co.uk and we would be happy to amend any misunderstandings accordingly.

And now, down to business…

Notes to the accounts

The notes to the accounts make for interesting reading, particularly the section titled “Risks and uncertainties”:

“At the year end the Directors faced a dilemma, without a Manager, a poor performance of the team over the previous season and an unusually high number of out of contract players. This has taken longer to resolve than the Directors would have liked but they have confidence in the future. The Directors believe that the company is not at risk with its strong financial position, no borrowings, an increased turnover and a modern fit for purpose stadium to play in.”

The above paragraph from the accounts speaks for itself and no further comment is probably needed.

Profit and loss

Before transfer fees are taken into account, and it is stated that the club received £3.5m for the sale of Matt Phillips to QPR, turnover fell from £22m in 2013 to £18.2m. This is mainly due to a fall in the parachute payments of around £2m, as well as lower season ticket revenue. Season ticket revenue fell from £2.6m to £1.7m, “due to a substanstially reduced ticket price for loyal supporters”, as stated in the notes to the accounts.

Elsewhere there were very slight drops in turnover derived from the souvenir shop, programmes, gate receipts, and bar & food sales. Sundry income and donations also fell from £1.9m to £1.3m, but it is unclear what exactly this comprises.

Overall the club enjoyed a profit for the year ending May 31st 2014 of £9.45m, which led to a corporation tax bill of £2.1m. This compares favourably with a pre-tax profit of £5.9m in the previous year, which yielded a tax bill of £1.35m.

The wage bill

There is no simple way to strip out the wage bill in isolation given the way in which the accounts are constructed, but there are some helpful notes in the accounts which provide some guidance. In previous years the accounts stated exactly what the “football-related” wage bill was, but they have opted not to do so this time around. Instead, they have provided figures on what constitutes “expenditure related to players’ wages, football managers and coaches wages and player transfer fees”. This obviously represents a wider scope, but handily the club have provided figures for prior years which allows some ability to compare.

Untitled
Expenditure related to players’ wages, football managers and coaches wages and player transfer fees

This naturally shows a gradual fall year on year. The figures for the current season (2014-15) won’t be known until this time next year when those accounts are filed.

Director remuneration

Directors’ remuneration fell from £568k in 2013 to £69k in 2014. The highest paid director was paid £44k in 2014 compared to £543k in 2013.

Belokon loans

There has been well-publicised friction between the Oyston family and Valeri Belokon in recent times, with the Latvian club president apparently seeking repayment of his loans to Segesta Limited which total in excess of £7m. In the financial year to the end of May 2014, these loans were not paid down by any amount. The notes in the Segesta accounts clarify this accordingly:

“The directors have taken legal advice to support their opinion that in the current and previous year no amounts fell due under the agreement with VB Football Assets (£7,268,168 Creditors due after more than one year). After the year end Segesta Limited has received a request for information from the legal advisors representing VB Football Assets. The directors are confident that they will be able to satisfy the request for information and no further amounts will become due under the agreement.”

These loans are interest free and unsecured.

Other loans

There are various loans between the group of companies headed by Segesta Limited, and to other external, but Oyston-family related companies.

In 2013, the loans that Segesta Limited owed to Blackpool Football Club Limited stood at £23.7m. This has increased by around £4m to £27.7m in 2014. In the same accounting period, the amounts owed to Blackpool Football Club Limited by Blackpool Football Club Hotel Limited increased from £640k to £699k, although the accounts state that since the year end, £250k of this has been repaid to Blackpool Football Club Limited.

The value of loans made by Segesta Limited to Oyston-related companies has also increased from £1.2m in 2013 to £3m in 2014. The bulk of this is composed of additional support provided to Natfarm Limited who saw their loan from Segesta increase from £0.25m to £1.86m. Natfarm’s business purpose is categorised as “mixed farming”. The terms of this loan are set out in the accounts:

“The repayment terms are that Natfarm Limited shall pay Segesta Limited 10% of its relevant gains (revenue profits, capital gains and all other monetary benefits) for each period, during which the loan or parts of the loan are outstadning, Natfarm Limited is obliged to prepare statutory accounts. The loan is repayable on demand. The loan shall not carry interest save to the extent that the loan is not repaid by the date which is 14 days after any demand for repayment is made. The amount demanded and not repaid shall accrue interest on a daily basis at an annual rate of 5% of the amount outstanding.”

With regards to some of the loans, the auditor A I Cherry has seen fit to only sign off the Segesta accounts on a qualified basis. The reasons for such a decision are provided by the auditor:

“We were unable to obtain sufficient evidence about the recoverability, and hence the carrying amount, of the amounts owed by certain related parties, namely Oystons Limited, The Lancashire Magazine Limited and Yorkshire Magazine Limited which remain outstanding.”

However, the directors of Segesta Limited believe there is no cause for concern. Again, to quote from the accounts:

“The directors confirm that they will not enforce repayment of the inter-company debt until such time as the companies are able to repay them. In particular amounts owed by Oystons Limited, The Lancashire Magazine Limited and Yorkshire Ridings Magazine Limited. A programme of repayment had been sighted and the first repayment made in respect of the three companies at the time of approval of the financial statements. The directors are confident that all amounts will be repaid in the fullness of time.”

Hotel

The period covered in these accounts saw the second year of trading for Blackpool FC Hotel Limited. Turnover increased from £859k to £1.21m, and losses narrowed from £182k to a loss of £94k.

Other post-balance sheet events

One event that happened after the year end date was the following:

“On 9 June 2014 Segesta Limited purchased land and buildings. The total price of the land, buildings and fixtures and fittings (excluding stamp duty) was £1,657,000. The asset will be included as an addition to tangible fixed assets in the year ended 31 May 2015. Included in other debtors (note 16) at 31 May 2014 was a deposit paid of £165,700.”

It is impossible to tell from the accounts alone what this asset might be. However, Zoopla shows that a property at Quernmore Park was purchased on this same date, 9th June 2014, for £1.75m. The Twitter page for Quernmore Park Hall confirms this property as being part of the Oyston group.

Key highlights

The key findings are:

  • Pre-tax profit increased from £5.9m to £9.45m
  • Football-related expenditure decreased from £9.84m to £8.40m
  • Loans from Blackpool Football Club Limited to Segesta Limited increased from £23.7m to £27.7m
  • Belokon loans remain the same, with £7.27m remaining outstanding
  • Loans from Segesta Limited to related companies increased from £1.2m to £3m
  • Segesta Limited’s accounts were signed off on a qualified basis by the auditor
  • Director pay dropped from £568k to £69k
  • Hotel losses narrowed from £182k to £94k
  • Segesta purchase property for £1.657m, plus initial deposit of £165.7k

To refer back to the notes, the statement made was that “the Directors […] have confidence in the future”. It is up to the directors to deliver on this, with the continued poor on-pitch performance being a huge disappointment for Blackpool supporters.

N.B Comments will not be published on this article. Thanks for your understanding.

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