Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 7th April 2016
The financial fitness of professional football clubs in England and Wales has never been better, according to the findings of a report from the insolvency specialists of Begbies Traynor.
Research suggests that there has been a very considerable improvement in recent years in terms of financial wellbeing among top football clubs across both countries.
As recently as 2012, figures suggested that 18 per cent of top English and Welsh football clubs were in financial distress, with that figure now down as low as 3 per cent.
The vast sums of money being generated annually by broadcast TV deals for top division football is now understood to be trickling down to a greater extent to lower league clubs and helping them to operate on a more stable financial footing.
Meanwhile, standards of financial management among owners and boards of football clubs at all levels is understood to have improved over the course of the past few years, with stronger regulatory oversight cited as a key factor in that development.
“To say that we have seen the end of football clubs going under is a step too far, as relegation impacts clubs harder than ever before, but it’s certainly less likely now,” said Gerald Krasner, a partner at Begbies Traynor.
“The football industry has never been fitter, and while many might think that it is down to the influx of big money foreign club owners, it is as much to do with the fair play rules and the HMRC stance on arrears, which have forced good housekeeping.”
As few as two football clubs among the 72 whose finances were assessed by Begbies Traynor were found to be in financial distress.
Recent reports on the same subject highlighted Bolton Wanderers as being the professional football club at the greatest risk of administration and severe financial problems due to its enormous debt burden, which until recently dwarfed those of its Championship division rivals.
But, with the threat of being docked points if it did enter administration, Bolton’s board recently managed to complete a takeover deal that enabled it settle a £2 million debt issue with HMRC and have a winding up petition against it dismissed after numerous reprieves by the High Court.