The 2017 season finished with Cork City winning the league and cup double with Dundalk winning the league cup as a very small consolation for not retaining the title. The league was reduced from 12 teams to 10 teams at the end of the season so 3 teams were relegated, highlighted in green below.
Profit & Loss
All clubs have now filed accounts for the year ended November'17. Per the submitted numbers the 12 teams lost a combined (€789k) between them with 5 clubs making a profit and 7 clubs making a loss. Cork City made the biggest recorded profit with +€237k and the other 4 profitable clubs recorded small surpluses.
* As Shamrock Rovers now have 2 entities for their football activities that are intertwined I have included both trading companies above. Up to 2017 all activities went through one entity.
However 2 of the 3 teams that recorded small surpluses, Derry City and St Pats had exceptional monies put through their P&L by theirs owners/shareholders. The third team that received this type of income was Limerick FC. Between these 3 teams circa €1.7m was put these clubs P&L's and without these monies these 3 clubs would have made substantial losses from real football activities.
Of the (€789k) combined losses circa (€643k) of these losses were incurred by the 2 Shamrock Rovers entities. Unlike some clubs Rovers are not putting exceptional monies through the P&L and instead are funding the losses with a loan in the balance sheet. Rovers are also investing heavily in the underage set up which again comes through in their assets.
When you strip out the exceptional monies, the 12 clubs lost a combined (€2.5m) in the year. This is what I would define as the "real" losses the league are incurring on a day to day trading basis. 3 clubs Limerick FC, St Pats and Shamrock Rovers make up circa (€2.1m) of the losses and Derry City account for the remaining (€0.3m) of the losses. The remaining 8 clubs combined make small surpluses or deficits.
Balance Sheet Position @ 30/11/17
One of the best measures of the sustainability of the league is to look at the balance sheets of the clubs. How clubs are funding losses etc would show up clearly here. Below is a table of the 12 sides at Nov'17.
On a combined basis the clubs don't have much fixed assets which stems from the fact that most clubs don't own their grounds. In total there is circa +€4.6m of assets here which included Oriel Park, Richmond Park, the work Rovers have done at Roadstone, and development work at both Sligo and Harps.
In total the club have negative current liabilities of circa (€3.3m) and this is inflated by the very strong position Dundalk FC were in. Excluding Dundalk their is circa (€5.7m) of current liabilities. Most of these relate to 2 clubs, St Pats (€3.9m) and Shamrock Rovers (€0.9m) and the good thing about these monies due is that they are mainly due to owners/shareholders. It does indicate the losses these clubs have incurred and they are lucky they have people that can fund said losses. Most of the remaining clubs have small deficits but nothing that can't be managed.
In terms of long term liabilities there are debts of circa (€3.5m) due but this figure is a little misleading. 3 clubs make up most of this liability but circa (€1.5m) of this in relation to St Pats and Finn Harps relates to government grants for stadium works that are being written off over a long time and would only be repayable in the event of the stadium being sold. The (€0.2m) in relation to Sligo also relates to Government grants.
The only real long term liability relates to Shamrock Rovers who do owe their 50% owner these funds back. These are long term in nature and like the current liabilities above they are lucky that they owe this money to internal parties.
Overall from the balance sheets of the clubs all 12 clubs are fine from a going concern basis. St Pats and Shamrock Rovers do have large deficits but these are owned internally so no risk of these being called in any time soon that would risk the club.
From a P&L point of view its clear that the league is still very dependent on "benefactor" monies and Euro money. The clubs lost circa (€0.8m) in the league with circa +€1.7m from benefactors and another +€1.7m from European prize money. As has been shown with Limerick in 2018 this benefactor money can dry up and Derry City in 2019 won't have the Euro prize money. These sudden changes will impact clubs budgets.
Clubs like Shamrock Rovers and Derry City have been in Europe over the last few year and have still run up losses which shows how hard it is to run a sustainable club even with that source of income. In 2018 Waterford FC have taken the Derry City position and it will be interesting to see their losses in 2018 as they lost (€0.3m) in 2017 getting out of division 1. Again Waterford FC have a benefactor underwriting these losses with loans.