Head of finance Richard Poole has provided an update for supporters.
Following a request from the Viking Supporters Cooperative, head of finance Richard Poole, has provided the following summary on the club’s finances during the pandemic year.
Due to owner funding, the generosity of supporters and partners, players, backroom staff and office staff taking wage cuts and deferrals, the creativity and hard work of staff, income received from player trading and rescue packages provided by different stakeholders, the club have survived what has been a very difficult 15 months financially.
The business model of the group is to use funds raised through Club Doncaster and non-football activities to support the activities of Doncaster Rovers and to a lesser extent (due to their size) Doncaster Rugby League and Doncaster Rovers Belles.
The impact of the pandemic and the lockdown restrictions not only impacted direct revenues to the club through ticket sales, but all the indirect revenues associated with Club Doncaster through our sports facilities, car parking agreements, tenancies, events and discount schemes such as DNA Card and Purple Vouchers.
Throughout the last 15 months our supporters have been incredible, either through donating potential refunds from match ticket sales, season tickets, lottery prizes and through supporting our fundraising initiatives and continuing to purchase products such as iFollow Rovers. Every little gesture provided by supporters has not only helped financially, but helped keep staff motivated in what has been a challenging year.
The generosity of supporters has been matched by an incredible amount of hard work, dedication and creativity by our staff. Players and backroom staff offered to take cuts and deferrals in the summer of 2020 and continued to do so throughout last season.
Whilst actions from players are what makes the headlines, the office staff have also taken similar actions, taking pay cuts, deferrals and agreeing to work reduced hours to help reduce the over heads of the business. On the other side of that, other staff have gone above and beyond with the amount of unpaid hours they have committed to the club during the past year. Many have taken on additional duties as part of their normal role and sacrificed full weekends, holiday days and pay. In many situations, a lot of our staff have had to try and juggle full time work whilst home schooling children too.
Commercially, due to the generosity of our business partners, a partnership model that takes full advantage of the shared resources we have at Club Doncaster and to the incredible work of our commercial team, we have grown the number of business partners we have at the club during the past year, which is an incredible achievement.
The creativity of our communications team has also been invaluable this season, fund raising initiatives such as the Teddy Bear Takeover and the West Ham United special edition package generated revenue that was the equivalent of playing a standard league game on a Tuesday night.
The use of iFollow to provide free streaming opportunities to season ticket holders in order to avoid deferrals and refunds proved popular. Revenue generated through the iFollow match pass sales was not insignificant and generated over £300,000. The revenue generated through iFollow and season ticket sales last season compared to a normal season was still however more than £1m down compared to previous seasons.
Club Doncaster revenues also significantly reduced as the pandemic continued. The football pitches and cages have been closed for the majority of the past twelve months due to lockdown restrictions, the Sunday Car Boot market has also suffered due to enforced closures.
Rents from car parking and rent have also reduced significantly in the past year, with many organisations ending their agreements for office space and car park space due to the increased use of home working.
With many restaurants and leisure facilities closed, discount schemes such as Purple Vouchers and our DNA Card have also seen reduced sales.
As we start the new financial year, there is some significant work to be done by our commercial and marketing teams in building these revenues back to the level they were pre-pandemic.
Due to the reduced revenue streams, monies from player trading have proven to be invaluable, this season further monies were received from the John Marquis sale, along with the compensation for Darren Moore and transfer fee received for Ben Whiteman.
Whilst the club have survived the pandemic, as we move into next season and a new financial year there are still long-term challenges we have to face as part of that survival process.
Across Club Doncaster revenues are significantly lower than they were this time two years ago, and there will be lots of hard work involved to build those back up to what they were. There are also significant debts which the club owe this year as a consequence of last season. HMRC debt to be repaid this year is more than £800,000, player wage deferrals are in excess of £170,000 and the repayment of the EFL rescue loan begins too. In summary there is more than £1m of debt to be repaid on top of normal operating costs.
Despite this, the owners have continued to be generous, the playing budget for next season is higher when compared to the 2019/20 season and the owners of the club have once again committed to funding any financial operational shortfall of the club. Prior to the year end the parent company, Club Doncaster Limited, converted ALL debts owed by Doncaster Rovers into share capital, removing the need for repayment and significantly improving the financial status of the football club by a value in high seven figures.