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Club Statement: Financial Position

Wed, 21st Apr 2010 9:00pm

As Clyde’s relegation was confirmed following Tuesday night’s defeat against Stirling Albion, the club has released a statement to update supporters as it prepares for next season…

Third Division football is confirmed for Broadwood for next season. Given that the outcome has looked likely for some time, the club had prudently prepared next season’s budget for either the Second or Third Division.

As was reported at the recent Club AGM and at the previous Q&A session for supporters, the club has made significant inroads to the debts that have caused so much distress in recent seasons. The latest financial forecasts will see debt reduced by over £200,000 in the current financial year, this is a remarkable step towards the stability that is essential to kick start the club’s recovery in the coming seasons.

Following the recent temporary introduction of Director of Football Neil Watt as interim manager, it is intended that an announcement will be made before the end of the season in respect of coaching staff. The club has already begun talking to players for the next campaign and whilst the financial constraints currently being applied will continue, we expect to be building the squad for next season in a far more organised and structured manner than was possible last year.

There is no doubt about the financial future of the club; stringent financial management has ensured that the instability of this time last season has not been repeated. The club is capable of surviving the drop to the Third Division and is planning a return to being regularly competitive in the other divisions.

Support has come to the club in the shape of North Lanarkshire Council who have typically found themselves on the wrong side of the clubs previous failure to pay for rent and services, culminating with the threat of eviction last season. The club is very grateful for the support shown over the last year which allowed the necessary time to restructure the cost base of the club.

The current financial year sees debt of nearly £100,000 repaid to North Lanarkshire Council along with arrears of PAYE and VAT as well as many general creditors all brought fully up to date, resulting in a total reduction in creditors by over £200,000. We could not have achieved this without the support of our creditors or the Board’s commitment to put financial stability up the agenda.
 
It will not be possible to repeat this achievement with the reductions in revenues in the Third Division; however a stable and maintainable formally agreed debt reduction plan to repay just over £50,000 per season to creditors has the club back on track to be completely debt free by March 2015 – the original date set following the aftermath of the crippling Creditors Voluntary Arrangement in 2005.

All of our plans rely on the commitment and continued support of our supporters, our commercial partners, sponsors and the many unseen volunteers around the club. We are thankful for the last five years of support from Optical Express who have been our main sponsor of our first team kit. The Optical Express deal has come to a natural end and this season we are holding a prize draw to sponsor our home and away kit. This remains a major and important initiative and your support of bringing this to the attention of businesses or indeed individuals would be greatly appreciated.

Much has been said about the inability of the club to sustain its tenancy at Broadwood in the Third Division but, despite the speculation, there are no plans to play anywhere else. For most of our time at the upper end of the First Division Broadwood was underutilised and if our Second Division crowds are anything to go by then the Third Division is not likely to see us exceed 10% usage of the seats too often. All of that said, we have a long lease over the stadium which gives us complete security of tenancy for the long term now that financial stability has been achieved. Our only discussions about our future use of the stadium is with North Lanarkshire Leisure who have offered us the opportunity to negotiate a new lease that is designed to give us greater autonomy around the stadium and also to further enhance our sustainability. These commercial discussions continue with both parties working towards agreeing a win-win lease before the end of June.

Similar timing applies to the conversion of the club to a member owned Community Interest Company. Subject to the backing of the shareholders of the club and any regulatory approvals the club will start next season in a streamlined structure of governance with increased transparency and communication with members and a significantly enhanced environment for interaction with the community and raising financial support for initiatives of youth development and community involvement.

It is envisaged that the members will be all existing shareholders of Clyde Football Club plus any new members who have an interest in Clyde who wish to join; membership will be open and accessible. This new structure shifts the perception of Clyde in the eyes of external organisations. As currently structured we are in the standard limited company format which is structured to operate solely for the financial benefit of individual shareholders - this has to be about the most redundant model possible in the football world. It is well know that few clubs are anything other than a financial drain on those involved, so it makes sense to structure the club legally as a community asset and take away the perception of external organisations that the club is run for the financial benefit of a few people. Our new structure should create fertile ground for fundraising to support community and youth activities that was previously not possible as a supposedly profit making enterprise.

Building on the plans to engage more with the community around us, we are currently developing a stunning value season ticket package for next year that will be real value to existing supporters and to new supporters alike. We are currently working on the detail of this with a number of commercial sponsors and we hope to launch the best value season tickets in the country in the next couple of weeks. We would normally have determined the pricing of our tickets by now but the scale of change in the offering merits delaying this news until the detail is finalised. We hope that you will support this initiative and the team for next season.

There remains a great deal to do within the club, not least the full integration of all the various groups that work independently for the benefit of the Club. All of these people are volunteers and their support over the last year where they have probably been a little neglected is greatly appreciated.

In summary, we are desperately disappointed to be relegated but recognise that not cutting squad costs and staying in the Second Division would not have achieved the essential reduction in debt and would almost certainly have led to the end of the club. Where we are now is a far more secure base from which to rebuild.