Brighton & Hove Albion have lodged their accounts for the 2014/15 season with the Football League, and the figures show a slight fall in overall operating losses – and demonstrate that, once again, the club has complied with the Football League’s Financial Fair Play requirements.
The accounts – which relate to last season, in which the first team finished in 20th position in the Championship – show that, for the year ending 30 June 2015, turnover fell by £0.3m to £23.7m, but this was offset by a further reduction in non-footballing operational costs, which were reduced to £11.8m.
The continued cuts in administrative and operational costs, increasing the overall efficiency of the football club, helped Albion increase its investment in footballing costs by just under £3m.
The club has distributed a full set of accounts to all shareholders – including an annual statement from chairman Tony Bloom – and has once again taken the step of making the annual accounts publicly available to all supporters.
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The Chairman's Statement
In last year's accounts, published at a time when the team was struggling in the lower reaches of the Championship, I felt it was important that my chairman's statement went some way to reassure our many stakeholders of the club's ambitions. We focused on the many positives, and the progress we had made in the previous years, while also attempting to address our lowly league position.
That was something none of the board, staff or players at the club expected given our level of investment or were satisfied with and I am pleased to be writing this year's statement having seen a tremendous improvement and progress in the past 12 months.
With that in mind, this year's statement will be somewhat briefer than last year's – but nonetheless will cover those issues important to our directors, shareholders and all stakeholders – including our supporters.
I wrote last year that ambitions are rarely realised overnight, and that remains the case. We have had a very good start to the current season, but we all know just how competitive and tough the Championship is year after year, so it's important we do not become complacent. There is still a lot to do to realise our ambition of playing at the highest level.
The second half of the financial year, and second half of last season, saw the foundations starting to be laid for the 2015/16 season. On New Year's Eve, Chris Hughton replaced Sami Hyypia as first-team manager. His first task was to retain our status as a Championship club – which was achieved – and then to reshape the squad into one capable of competing at the top end of the Championship.
I am pleased to report that the club has made very good progress in squad rebuilding during the two transfer windows – first in January and then again in the summer months of 2015. The club has made a record-breaking start to the Championship, and so many people are working extremely hard to continue with this momentum until the end of the season.
I would like to take this opportunity to praise the progress made by Chris, his staff and all the playing squad, and wish them every success for the remainder of the season.
I would also like to thank the board of directors – the majority who give their time and expertise to the club without charge – and our executive directors Paul Barber, Martin Perry and David Jones for the excellent job each of them continues to do on behalf of Brighton & Hove Albion.
I am pleased that despite a testing season on the pitch, the work undertaken by our staff off the pitch – in particular in making our business more efficient while still growing our income in key areas – allowed us to achieve the majority of our non-football targets. That enabled us to invest £3m more in the club's football budget – despite the significant challenges presented by the Financial Fair Play rules during 2014/15.
With this in mind I would like to thank our staff for their incredibly hard work during our toughest season since our move to the American Express Community Stadium.
Community and Supporters
The local community remains an important part of our focus – both for the club and its charitable arm Albion in the Community – and that involvement continues to affect the lives of many local people in such a positive and inspiring way. The Albion has always played a significant role in the local community and we recognise the responsibility we have to both our supporters and many others via Albion in the Community.
We also recognise the importance of our supporters – both fans and sponsors – and they remain the lifeblood of the Albion. Interacting and hearing the concerns of supporters remains an important part of our identity. While I am chairman of the club we will always remain open to feedback and constructive criticism from our supporters, and we will always strive to continually improve all that we do.
Our ambition remains for the club's teams, both men and women, to play at the highest level possible – and as chairman (and a lifelong supporter of the club) I will do everything I possibly can to achieve that and I remain fully committed to that goal.
In late 2014, Championship clubs voted to increase the level of permitted Financial Fair Play losses from £5m to £13m. Of course, that is a huge increase, and one we as a club were not entirely happy with. We reluctantly supported these changes as it does provide us with greater flexibility and the option to compete with those clubs benefitting from parachute payments, and it also guarantees greater revenues from the Premier League to all Championship clubs.
This current season (2015/16) is the first under the new rulings. We still firmly believe in the principles behind the FFP rules, and I believe prudent investment remains the correct way to build our football club.
As such, we are keen to ensure all investments and player transactions are made with the club's long-term future as well as short-term objectives in mind. With permitted losses of £13m per year, any Championship club wishing to compete for promotion will inevitably make significant losses, so it remains a delicate balancing act for the board, recruitment team and manager as we strive to achieve our ultimate aim.
Click here for the club's full set of accounts.
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