Sunday, 2 December 2018

2017 Premier Division Summary


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.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Dundalk FC - Domination to Continue...

Dundalk FC over the last 6 seasons are probably the most dominant team since I started regularly attending games in the late 80's as a teenager. Continual success and built on very solid foundations which means that the success may well continue for years to come. Its hard to begrudge them this success given they earned it on the pitch over these 6 years.

New Owners (2012)

The current trading company that run Dundalk FC was set up in Oct'12 and the new owners Paul Brown and Andrew Connolly paid €77k to acquire the club name from Gerry Matthews. On the 21st November 2012 these new owners made probably their best decision when they appointed Stephen Kenny as manager. The club had finished second last in 2012 and only avoided relegation with a playoff win versus Waterford. In Kennys first year they finished second to St Pats with a very new team and since then have won 4 titles.

Results /Numbers

The table below shows some of the key metrics at Dundalk FC over the last 6 seasons. Unlike some clubs success in previous decades Dundalk's success is built on solid foundations with the club making big profits and having large cash reserves. Dundalk have won 4 leagues, 2 FAI cups and 2 league cups, also finishing runners up twice in the league and twice the cup.

The table below highlights the profitability of the club, since the new owners acquired it the club has been well run making only a small loss in their first year. Over the 5 years to November'17 the club made accumulated profits of €3.3m and had circa €2.5m in the bank at Nov'17.

2018 also shows how they are pulling away from the rest on the pitch, with their highest points per game of 2.42 and also winning the cup. With almost all the 2018 squad signed up for next season and a large bank balance plus future guaranteed monies from the CL it will be hard to catch Dundalk.

Player Churn

What makes Dundalk's success even more impressive to me is the amount of key players they have lost and Kenny has replaced them every time. All of these players were lost with no transfer fee income to the club due to short contracts, a situation that they seem to be rectifying this year with longer contract terms. At the end of the 2014 season they lost their top goal scorer Pat Hoban, followed by at the end of the 2015 season losing Richie Towell, again the top goal scorer. At the end of the 2016 season they lost Andy Boyle, Ronan Finn and Daryl Horgan both of whom where key players in winning the league the previous 3 seasons. Finally at the end of 2017 they lost both David McMillan and Patrick McEleney

They suffered for these losses eventually in 2017 and being up against a very strong Cork City team with their lowest points per game since Kennys first season but with the re-signing of Pat Hoban for 2018 they have gone from strength to strength. 

Oriel Park/New Owners

Over 2016 and 2017 the owners of Dundalk FC spent circa €900k on acquiring the lease of the club and Youth Development Centre which allows them to develop the ground and they also relayed the pitch with a new artificial surface. The success on the pitch together with the acquiring of the site allowed the club to be sold if someone was interested.

The club was sold to Lilywhite Holdings LLC on 18th January 2018. The 2018 season was the first season for the clubs new owners and clearly it has been a very successful season. The new LLC is the 100% owner of the club and is a subsidiary of Peak 6 Investment LP. Peak 6 have a lot of interests in sports clubs  as can be seen with their interests here but buying an Irish club would have historically been seen as an odd investment.

Future Domination??

Dundalk built their success in the earlier years on good management and unearthing players. In recent seasons with the cash made in 2016 they have been able to recruit more established players. This has allowed Dundalk to continue the success while not losing money.

In previous decades, even in the 2000's the dream was to make big money in European Football. This was very hard to achieve but now even limited success in Europe as champions is worth a lot.

Due to Dundalk regularly winning in Europe and their very good year in 2016 Dundalk now have a coefficient of 7 for the 2019/20 CL campaign. This ranking will comfortably see them seeded for round 1 in the CL. At a minimum Dundalk are guaranteed 2 games in Europe assuming they lose their first one in the CL. Based on the 2018/19 figures these 2 games are worth €800k (€540k from the CL and €260k from the EL). However if they can win their first round game which they will be seeded they will make €1.2m (€920k from the CL and €280k from the EL).

Why I think its very hard for any club to catch Dundalk without significant outside investment is that most LOI clubs would not have turnover of €1m per annum from normal football activities and Dundalk can make this level of income from just 3 games. From clubs that do publish a P&L only Cork City would be above the €1m and I suspect Shamrock Rovers would be too. Rovers, Waterford and maybe Cork City will all be unseeded in the EL next season meaning they may bring in circa €240k from Europe v €1.2m for Dundalk. Obviously if these teams can win a few games this prize money will go up but as unseeded teams this will be harder than Dundalk.

In recent years clubs like Rovers, Derry and Pats have made losses (Rovers) or been heavily subsidised (Derry/Pats) and they have not been able to keep up with Dundalk. Only Cork City who have made modest profits over the last few seasons have been able to keep pace but they have indicated for 2019 they will have to reduce spend etc. Other clubs like Bohs, Sligo, Galway, etc have cut their cloth to measure but can't compete in the league as a result.

Given the financial head start that Dundalk will have from European money, for any team to catch them they will need very deep pockets. Some clubs have benefactors but the scale of Euro money means these benefactors will have to spend more to try and catch up. And ironically the team with the biggest benefactor are Dundalk who don't need them based on their rewards on the pitch.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Shamrock Rovers Financial Update 2017


I previously did post on the 3 years to Nov'16 and a lot has changed since then.

Corporate Structure

At Nov'16 the club was circa 93% owned by Shamrock Rovers Members Club CLG (419156) with Ray Wilson owning the remaining 7%. Following a deal between the members club and Ray Wilson, new shares were issued and the operating club (Shamrock Rovers F.C. Limited) is now owned 50% by the members club and 50% by Ray Wilson with both parties owning 368 shares.

Also a new legal entity called Shamrock Rovers Academy Limited was created which is 100% owned by the operating club. This would line up with their plans to invest in that side of the club and they have done so over the last 2 years. Hopefully the table below shows this as its own of the more complicated structures.

Profit & Loss

As explained Rovers lost (€1.2m) from 2014 to 2016 and the table below shows the 2017  combined P&L position.
In 2017 Rovers split out the assets and costs of the academy making it easier to compare the regular football activities to that of other clubs. The members club effectively operates at break even, it collects subs and passes this money on to the operating club for season tickets etc.

The operating club lost circa (€289k) in the year which was well down on the loss in 2016 of (€661k). However some of the 2016 losses would have also been to do with the academy so its hard to compare both years. Also from 2016 to 2017 Rovers prize money from Europe went up from +€215k to +€440k as they had 2 games in Europe in 2017 v 1 in 2016.

Rovers are one of the few clubs that in 2017 have given payroll information in terms of costs so we can compare their cost here v some other clubs. In 2017 in the operating company Rovers spent (€1.2m) on 34 employees of which 28 relate to the playing and management side. As a comparison in 2017 Cork City who won the league spent (€1.1m) on wages, Sligo Rovers spent (€546k) and Finn Harps (€232k). The 2 tier nature of  the league is highlighted here with Rovers & Cork well ahead of the likes of Sligo and Harps in terms of playing resources. 

In terms of the academy, this is a new company with only 1 year of  trading. In the year the academy lost (€354k). Its 2 main costs in the year were payroll of (€83k) and depreciation on its investment in Roadstone of (€79k), the second one more an accounting cost than a cash cost. The loss in the year was in line with their expectations as they get this off the ground. There is not much info in the accounts on what type of income/costs that are captured in here, if the Bazunu transfer goes into the academy accounts in 2018 it will obviously make a big different to that P&L. I think from Rovers point of view splitting the 2 entities, the first team and academy into 2 companies is good as they can clearly measure both.

Balance Sheet

The operating company has accumulated losses of (€1.63m) and negative reserves of (€1.18m) at Nov'17. In affect this has been funded by a €1.225m long term loan from Ray Wilson. This is an interest free loan that per the accounts won't be asked to be repaid in the next 12 months. On that basis Rovers have no trading concerns.

The operating company like most clubs as it does not own its  ground has little fixed assets, it has large current assets which I assume is money owed by the academy company to the operating company.

The principle asset Rovers now own sits in the academy company. The club have invested circa €610k in facilities in Roadstone over the last 2 years. They have a 10 year licence at this venue per the 2016 accounts. The academy company owes circa (€1m) in current liabilities and there is no breakdown of this but I would assume most is owed to the operating company and Ray Wilson who are funding this investment.


Rovers are doing things differently to other clubs and also doing some of the same things;

On the different side to others they are heavily investing in the youth side of the club, between operating losses and capital investment the club has spent at least €0.9m over 2016 and 2017 and probably more but I can't strip those costs out of 2016. Time will tell if this works or not, but the standard plan of putting all the money into the first team hasn't worked for most clubs so a change of model can't do any harm. The Bazunu sale in 2018 is a big lift to that plan.

On the same side to others they are losing money on running the club. They have lost circa (€1.5m) over 2014 to 2017 with (€289k) in 2017 alone. This is no different to most clubs, however Rovers benefactor is loaning money rather than putting it through the P&L like Pats, Derry & Limerick and as a result they build up losses. They actually spent more in payroll than the champions did in 2017 which shows their intent in the league. They have the €1.225m loan and as its from a fan they are in a strong position financially but like most clubs they are not operating on a sustainable basis. This is a league wide challenge but Rovers losing money, with €440k from Europe and the second highest average attendance in 2017 shows the challenge for all clubs.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The 2000's - The Decade of Excess

The 2000's - When most LOI clubs partied

I don't think there is much new news here for fans of the league in the 2000's, however when you add it all up it makes particularly grim reading. The 2000's was the time when many league of Ireland clubs moved into the full time professional era, unfortunately it was all built on sand and came crashing down across the league.

The table below shows how teams fared in terms of success with a certain level of consistency across the decade. Bohemian FC and Shelbourne FC won 4 leagues each with Cork City, Drogheda Utd and Shamrock Rovers each winning 1. 

Derry City and Longford Town were both successful in the cup competitions as Bohs/Shels while successful in the league didn't win much in the cups.

However while all this success was going on the picture behind the scene was not as nice for the clubs.

The Cost of Success

The table below shows the losses these 7 clubs ran up over the 2000's. Per the published accounts or examiner/liquidator reports the clubs lost at least (€28.4m) and if you read a bit more they lost (€35.7m) over the decade from on the pitch activities. Some of these companies just stopped trading and didn't file completed accounts to their date of cessation but I would be happy with the data from various company disclosures.

I was surprised at the scale of these losses, remember there are other clubs that also went bankrupt in this period that are not counted here as I focused on the clubs that were really "living the dream" and what happened to these clubs. The figures seem large but I will explain where these losses and debts went as such.

Bohemian FC

At the start of the 2000's Bohs had a P&L reserve of close to zero, in affect 65 years of trading at break even. Bohs had run into difficulties before but had managed to work their way out of these issues. Bohs have won the league 11 times but 4 of these occurred in this decade which highlights how successful it was on the pitch.

However off the pitch Bohs lost (€4.4m) and this was after banking circa +€3.4m in proceeds from the sale of Dalymount to Liam Carroll. When you exclude these proceeds the success on the pitch cost circa (€7.8m). The professional era started well at Bohs with the club winning the league in 2001 under Roddy Collins and actually making a profit off the pitch due to the Kaiserslauten game and German TV rights. However from 2001 onwards financially it was all downhill.

Bohs were left with debts of circa (€5m) at the end of Nov'10, mainly loans secured on the sale of the ground which was now gone due to the property boom ending. Ultimately Bohs repaid (€3.5m) of a loan of (€4.5m) with the sale of Dalymount park to the council.

Ultimately to fund the success over the decade Bohs sold Dalymount for +€3.5m, had deposits of another +€3.4m for a failed sale and the bank wrote off  +€1m of the loan.

* Club accounts from 2001 to 2010 on the CRO company number 8751

St Patricks Athletic FC

St Pats started the decade like Bohs with a fairly break even situation for the years they had been trading. From 2001 to 2006 before the club was sold to Garrett Kelleher the club had ran up losses of circa (€2.6m). By the end of 2010 these losses had risen to (€5.7m) meaning Pats lost (€3.1m) between 2007 and 2010.

However when you read the accounts, it is noted that St Pats also had debt forgiveness to its parent company of (€3.9m) in those 4 years. At the end of Nov'10 the company owned its parent company circa (€3.7m) even after the (€3.9m) write off. In reality over the decade the club lost circa (€9.6m) on the pitch. The club still owns the stadium unlike most of the clubs covered here which still remains its principle asset.

The Pats figures seem very high, but equally the accounts are very clear and the notes very detailed. Of all the figures this one stumped me the most but as I said, the info is there for anyone to read.

* Club accounts from 2001 to 2010 on the CRO company number 189439

Shamrock Rovers FC

Rovers started the decade working on getting the Tallaght Stadium built which they were going to own at this point on a long lease. I can't remember all the issues back then but the lease was owned by Mulden International and the trading company of Rovers was Branvard Limited.

Rovers actually went bang prior to some of the really big losses in the late 2000's. In April'05 they applied for Examinership to try and reduce some of the accumulated debts and allow the club to keep trading. Per the examiner the club had run up debts of circa (€3.6m) and of these they repaid circa +€0.6m. Its hard to work out just when Rovers ran up all these debts but per their accounts at May'00 they like Bohs/Pats had traded close to break even, by Nov'03 they had lost (€1.7m) and they didn't file 2004 accounts. The next accounts filed were in 2005 post  the examinership and at this stage the debt was greatly reduced. Rovers were relegated in 2005 as out of the examinership process issues arose with their submitted accounts but were promoted again after the 2006 season.

Not surprisingly while other clubs were running up big debts in the late 2000's Rover broadly traded at break even after coming through the examinership process.

* Club accounts from 2001 to 2010 on the CRO company number 245954 & Court Order of 02/08/05 exiting Examinership

Drogheda United FC

The company that ran Drogheda United was called Hinge Trading Limited and was only set up in 1997. So at the start of the decade this entity had not ran up much accumulated losses, very similar to the other clubs. In 2003 this company was taken over by another company called Drogheda United Football Club (O2) limited.

Between 2005 and 2007 (3 seasons) Hinge Trading limited lost circa (€4.5m) which culminated in them winning the league in 2007. However even with this league win the problems were clear, the club went into examinership by Oct'08.

The court accepted examinership document is available to read but the quality is very bad to make out all the losses and the agreement.

Ultimately it would appear that most of the losses that Hinge Trading ran up were covered by the directors of the parent company buying new shares in that company to fund these losses. However in 2008 this stopped and Hinge Trading had debts itself of (€0.7m) which it ran up over 2008 which led to Hinge Trading going into Examinership.

Drogheda were deducted 10 points for the examinership but stayed in the premier division. Ultimately a new members owned club was created in 2011 as a holding company to own the club together with a new trading company to run the club, similar to the Shamrock Rovers structure. Both the previous 2 entities that ran the club in the 2000's were voluntarily struck off the CRO in 2013.

* Club accounts from 2001 to 2010 on the CRO company number 266933/366788 & Court Order of 30/01/09 exiting Examinership

Shelbourne FC

Shelbourne FC probably started the move to professional football in the late 90's early 2000's whose model was then followed by other clubs. Shels traded under a company called Accolade limited since the mid 80's. In 1993 the company changed its rules in order to avoid company filings by in affect stating that the owners could not bank any profits and any surpluses would go to the FAI. A little known rule but Shels employed it.

As a result there are no annual accounts to review apart from the 2014 accounts which were submitted and in affect closed the company down. The company was liquidated in May 2018. Shels last won the league in 2006 but were immediately relegated at the end of that season for financial problems. Accolade would appear to be replaced by a new company in 2007 called Shelbourne FC limited but they also don't file full accounts. Shels have only had 2 seasons back in the premier division since 2006 in 2012/2013.

Where the (€6.2m) loss comes from in the 2000's is that this is the accumulated losses when the company completed accounts. Assuming like most clubs that coming into the decade the club was circa zero on this line it would give a (€6.2m) loss over the decade and really over the 6 years to 2006.

How this was funded is harder to explain, the easiest bit is like Bohs, Shels banked circa +€3.1m for deposits on the sale of Tolka Park. These deposits were written off in the accounts as that deal fell through with the property bubble ending. Accolade at wind up also had other creditors of circa €1.5m that were written off as part of the wind up. Its a shame there are not more details available here but the (€6.2m) accumulated losses is a fact as such.

* Club accounts 2014 on the CRO company number 106863

Derry City FC

Derry City traded under the UK company Wellvan Enterprises. While they didn't win a league in the 2000's they contended a few times and won both the FAI & League cup a few times. Derry finished 4th in the 2009 season but were relegated after than season to division 1 after financial difficulties. Wellvan ceased trading at the end of the 2009 season and was replaced by Derry City Football Club Limited in 2010. Derry were promoted after only 1 season in the first division.

The last annual accounts the company filed before their trouble was Nov'07 and at that stage accumulated losses stood at a modest (£166k) which would be nothing to worry about. No accounts were ever filled for 2008 or 2009 as the company appointed an administrator in Nov'09.

Per the administrators report of Nov'11 & Nov'12 there were (£1.5m) of unsecured creditors and this is where I calculate the losses the business was running up to Nov'09. As a result of these debts the company choose a voluntary liquidation as the administrator had no chance to save the company or repay the debts.

* Club accounts 2001 to 2007 on the CRO company number NI028477 and administrator report Nov'11/12

Cork City FC

Cork City were one of the more complicated clubs to look at as they had 3 companies involved in running the club, Vendra Investments to 2002, Cork City Investment Ltd 2003 to 2009 and FORAS for 2010. Cork City actually look well run up to 2006 with accumulated losses of circa (€250k). At the end of 2006 Brian Lennox sold the club to Arkaga and was then later sold again to Tom Coughlan.

The company never filed accounts for 2008 or 2009 and ultimately a new company FORAS set up. When Cork City were relegated in 2009, FORAS entered the league in the first division in 2010, winning promotion in 2011 after 2 seasons in the first division.

In 2007 when the last published accounts were published Cork City lost circa (€0.7m) for the year and circa (€0.9m) since 2002. The club owed Arkaga circa (€1m) in the balance sheet at that date.

I only estimated losses of another (€0.6m) in 2008 and 2009 to come to the (€1.5m) figure and that is based on media reports at the time. To be honest, I think based on 2007 and the hike in losses across the board in all clubs it could have been a lot higher in 2008/09.

* Club accounts to 2007 on the CRO company number 366256


This is a very long post and I appreciate it if you are still reading here. I wanted to explain the facts as detailed as possible to give the reader confidence on the figures as a loss of (€35.7m) across 7 clubs seems massive. The real losses in the league would be higher, probably over (€40m) an example being Sporting Fingal who only played 3 seasons and in the first 2 of those needed (€1.25m) from Gerry Gannon, they went bang at the end of year 3 and never filed those accounts. Dundalk had a few entities from a co-op and another limited company running the club in the 2000's, each change required when financial difficulties arose. For Longford who were successful in the early 2000's I can't actually find the legal entity that ran the club then but a new one was set up in 2007.

What did all these losses get us apart from some success for some clubs and some UEFA ranking points. Very little. Bohs lost Dalymount, Shels lost Tolka, Rovers lost owning Tallaght. Cork/Derry/Drogheda/Rovers went through examinerships to try and save the clubs, some succeeded, some clubs had to start again (that's another debate). Numerous clubs across the country had regular financial problems, all of which became apparent towards the end of the decade.

Thankfully per my other posts the league is a lot better run today in financial terms, also with the youth leagues etc money is going into develop players for the future and not just the first team. The key lesson for clubs now is not to over extend themselves to chase teams ahead like most of us did in the 2000's. That's hard when fans want success etc but hopefully enough of us have learnt the lessons for it not to happen again on this scale.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Finn Harps FC Financial Update 2014-2017


Finn Harps were founded in 1954 and first played in the league in 1969. Their legal structure is similar to Cork and Sligo Rovers and they operate as a co-op under the name of Finn Harps Co-operative society Limited (No: 4898R) and this legal entity was created in January'97. Finn Harps currently play their home games in Finn Park but are hoping to move to a new stadium that has been in the pipeline for many years and in recent months positive progress has been noted in terms of this development Over the 4 years in review here Harps finished 5th in the first division, followed by 2nd and a playoff win for promotion to the premier division in 2015, followed by 10th in the premier division in 2016 and relegation in 2017 with an 11th place finish and the league being reduced to 10 teams.

Profit & Loss

Over the 4 years, Finn Harps made a small loss of circa (€14k) with all this loss coming in 2017. It would appear in 2017 that Harps tried to avoid relegation with the reduction in league size with a large increase in payroll which was up (€70k) on 2016.

Overall over the 4 years Harps looks like a prudently run club at the minute with the club not really spending more than they are taking in. While they appear to be loss making, if you exclude depreciation on the stadium and the grant write back the club would have made a cash surplus of circa +€25k. This depreciation and grant amortisation is to do with the stadium assets.

In terms of revenue Harps have increased that significantly over the 4 years, a promotion push in 2015 increased gate receipts by almost +€60k on 2014 and gates again increased by +€65k in 2016 with Harps being in the premier division. Gates fell a little in 2017 as the team were towards the bottom of the table. Being in the premier and having a level of success is very important in terms of revenue to a club like Harps in looking at the P&L.

In terms of revenue and thus resources available to invest in the team Harps would have the lowest revenue of the teams that share their data. The table below shows that Harps bring in only 17% of what Cork City bring in and only 1/2 of what Bohs bring in. This disparity in terms of revenue immediately puts them at a disadvantage in terms of staying competitive.

Like Sligo Rovers, Harps get decent support from their supports and local community with with in 2017 circa €125k of their revenue coming from Draw Tickets, Lotto & Half Time draws, Donations and 500 club donations. This is a very big revenue source for the club and accounts for circa 27% of all their revenue.

In terms of costs, like most clubs Harps main cost is the playing side of the club. Payroll was very modest in 2014 and 2015 when in the first division at (€93k) and (€109k) but did increase with the move to the premier division. In 2016 this cost increased to (€164k) with a further increase in 2017 to (€232k). Most clubs don't have to declare their payroll figure any more but of those that have this is by far the lowest payroll cost to date.

Balance Sheet

While Harps have been well run over the last 4 years this may not be the case since they first started trading as the company has accumulated losses of circa (€627k) and given that the capital invested is only +177k the club has negative reserves of (€450k).

The principle asset Harps have relates to the stadium and property which appears to be on a long leasehold. This asset is valued in the books at circa +€774k at Nov'17.

Harps have very little current assets but do owe (€333k) in current liabilities at Nov'17. Just over 1/2 of this is owed to fans of the clubs through personal loans which does reduce the likelihood of these debts being called in. This also again highlights the dependence of the club on its fans.

Harps biggest "liability" relates to Government grants and this is not a real liability as such and won't have to be repaid as long at the ground is used. This amount is not disclosed in full but would be circa (€720k) at Nov'17 and is more an accounting liability than a real liability. Harps also have a debt of (€228k) in long term debts but as this amount hasn't changed in 4 years there is clearly no immediate threat of this being required to be repaid by the club.

So while the balance sheet is not very healthy, the 2 main debts owed to fans and a long term liability make up most of the "real" debt and on that basis there seems little risk of Harps being in any trouble with their debt given they are being run prudently today.


Harps are another club living within their means but struggling in terms of performance as a result. Harps don't have a benefactor and have had no European money in the 4 year period, but as the revenue shows just being in the premier division makes a big difference to the club. Looking at the Balance Sheet Harps did live outside their means in the past and have the legacy debt as a result but thankfully this debt is structured so as not to threaten their future at the minute.

Harps will now need to focus on getting back to the premier division (they have a good chance of this in 2018) while moving ahead with the new stadium. However competing in the premier division will remain a challenge given their location and population in attracting both players and fans in order to drive revenue to be able to compete. This challenge though is not unique to Harps as the gap widens even within the premier division between the teams with Europe/Benefactors and those without.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Longford Town FC Financial Update 2015-2017


Longford Town trade under a company called Domeford Limited (450246) which was set up in Dec'07. Longford joined the league in 1984 and originally traded as Longford Town Football Club Limited (93442) which was set up in Feb'83. At some point in 1997/98 the original company became a property holding company owning the stadium that Longford Town now play in. I can't make out what entity owned/ran the club between 1998 and 2008 when Domeford then took over. Longford finished 6th & 12th in the premier division in 2015 & 2016 and finished 5th in Division 1 in 2017. Longford play at the City Calling Stadium which as I said is owned by the original football club company. Domeford is owned by 2 people with a 50% stake each who have owned this shares since the company was set up in Dec'07.

Profit & Loss

Over the last 3 years, Longford Town were in the premier division for 2 of them and the first division for the last one. As you can see in the table below, the club has broken even for the 3 seasons.

From reading the accounts there does not seem anything exceptional in terms of income in the accounts which would show a club living within in means and running on a sustainable basis. The club got promoted to the premier division at the end of 2014 and as a result its wages cost went from (€130k) in 2014 to (€198k) in 2015. Given they finished 6th that season after stepping up it was a very good season for them, although they did lose money. 

In 2016 the club broke even with wages running at (€205k) in the year. The club clearly didn't increase investment here where as other clubs in the league did and as a result Longford struggled and finished last. The club made a small profit in the year after settling back into the premier division.

2017's profit was very strong and there is nothing to indicate anything exceptional in here. Payroll fell to (€155k) after falling back to division 1. To put this into context Longford finished 5th this season behind Waterford who won the league. Waterford with the money from Lee Power ran up losses of (€289k) in this 1 year which shows what the likes of Longford are up against in terms or resources.

Overall there is very little P&L information shown but it would appear that the club is well managed and living within in means, even though as more benefactors come into the league it makes it harder for the likes of Longford to both get up and stay up.

Balance Sheet

At the end of Nov'17 Longford have negative reserves of (€147k) from circa 10 years trading. They have current assets of +€67k and liabilities of circa (€216k). The great thing as regards these liabilities is that circa (€176k) is owed to supporters and related parties which have given this money interest free and won't be requesting repayment in the immediate future. As a result of most of the liabilities being owed to fans this would indicate that the balance sheet is in quiet a good place for going forward.


Longford seem a well run club living within its means. It has no real debt issues that would worry a reader. Its challenge will be getting back to the premier division, it is currently in the final playoff position with 2 league games to go. If they can secure promotion they will have to invest in the team in order to stay up and given the wages demands in the premier division with European money and benefactors this will be a big demand on the club.

Longford Town Football Club Limited

This company owns the City Calling Stadium having originally also run the football club. This is an interesting company whose only asset is the stadium. The company spent a lot of money building the ground in 2003/2004 and spent circa €1.37m on the stadium. At the height of the property boom, the company revalued the stadium to be worth circa €3.5m (Nov'07 accounts). The company owed money on the building of the stadium to various people but given that valuation the balance sheet looked very strong in Nov'07.

However in the Nov'15 accounts the property was again revalued and this time to be worth €280k which is its carrying value today. This company is probably a good example of the Irish property bubble and its impacts on accounts.

At Nov'17 its main asset is the ground worth €280k and it has liabilities of circa (€800k). Luckily for the club and this company circa (€744k) is owed to Jim Hanley or his company. Per the accounts he has indicated he won't be looking for repayment in the immediate future which leaves the ground and thus the club safe. Jim Hanley is the current Longford Town FC chairman and long time supporter and the club are obviously lucky to have his support re the legacy stadium debts.

Bray Wanderers FC Financial Update 2014-2016


Bray Wanderers are set up like most clubs and are run by a limited company rather than a co-op. The club joined the league in 1985 and have used the same trading company in all that time, "Bray Wanderers Limited" number 108824. Bray Wanderers play at the Carlisle grounds which they lease from Bray Urban District Council on a 35 year lease starting in 2001. In these 3 seasons Bray Wanderers finished 10th/8th and 6th respectively in the premier division with another 6th place finish in 2017.

I am including a special section here as unlike most clubs it is less obvious as to the ownership of the club. Bray have issued share capital of €817,431 with 817,431 €1 ordinary shares having being issued. Most of these shares were issued between 2004 and 2006 when the club raised circa €760k in issuing shares to owners. Most of these went to fund losses in those years with the club losing circa (€450k) in 3 years between 2004 and 2006.

Even before recent difficulties the club has always relied on the support of benefactors and over 2012/13 circa (€600k) of loans to shareholders were written off by these shareholders which significantly improved the balance sheet position at that time.

There have been lots of share transfers since then but at August'17 circa 757k of the shares were owned by Milway Dawn Limited (561046) a company controlled by Gerry Mulvey with 80% ownership and Denis O'Connor with 20% ownership. The remaining shares were owned by Pat Devlin 40k, John Deering 18.5K and John O'Brien 1.5k. So in reality and as noted in the 2016 Bray Wanderers accounts, Milway Dawn were the parent company of the club and ultimate owner. 

Another company set up at a similar time was Unknowns football club limited (554661) which was set up in December'14 by Denis O'Connor but was dissolved in Oct'17 and it never filed accounts over the years it was active.

Milway Dawn were only set up in April'15 and have not filed any accounts or returns with the CRO except for the period to April'16. As a result it is very hard to discuss this entity and the CRO has them listed for strike off due to being overdue by 12 months and more with their submissions.

I would caveat all the above with that the recent acquisition of the club in recent months, the ownership will again have changed but I don't yet have visibility of this but should in due course. 

Profit & Loss

The P&L for 2017 will be due in the coming weeks and I will update this then. The auditors/directors for the company release very little detail in the accounts with no related party notes included in the 2016 accounts. This note is usually where you would note exceptional investment from an owner as in the case at Limerick/Derry or Pats.

In the 3 years under review, Bray appear to have only lost circa (€78k) with a big profit of +€142k in the 2016 year. This is the year that Milway Dawn came about but as they haven't filed accounts its hard to understand how much they put into Bray in that year and thus how much they may have lost as a result. I would be surprised that Bray would make such a profit in that season from "normal" trading given their league position and losses in the previous 2 seasons but I doubt I will ever be able to confirm same.

In the 2015 accounts there is a note that "Unknowns Football club limited" paid Bray circa €54k for shirt sponsorship and a concession to operate a mobile food stand in the ground. This would have helped the 2015 accounts from a profit point of view.

The one thing of note in the accounts was that payroll increased from (€184k) in 2015 to (€356k) in 2016 an almost doubling of this cost and the club started making big profits.

This was the start of Bray Wanderers increasing the playing budget which they did further in 2017 but as most reading this know it did not end well with the club having difficulties paying players in 2017 although it was reported that all wages for 2017 were ultimately paid.

Balance Sheet

The Balance sheet of the club at Nov'16 is in a reasonably healthy position with net debts of circa (€176k). They also have a fixed asset of circa €257k which relates to the carrying value of the improvements the club made to the grounds over the years mainly between 2006 and 2008.

There were 2 difficulties looking at Bray, firstly even by LOI standards they disclose very little information and I think some important notes to accounts like related parties are missing. That makes it very hard to discuss either the true P&L or what monies are owed to who. Secondly the change in shareholders and number of companies involved also make it hard to follow, especially given that 2 of the companies are not submitting returns over those years.

Overall we all know that the club has had significant financial difficulties in 2017 and 2018 and ultimately the club have new owners in the form of Niall O'Driscoll. Hopefully under his tenure the club will stabilise as looking at the accounts for the last 3 years and also make to the 2000's the club has been surviving off the generosity of various shareholders in taking up new shares and writing off debts for a long time now. Bray Wanderers as a club have been trading on an unsustainable basis for a long time.

Bray Wanderers are a good example of when a benefactor runs out of cash for whatever reason. It is very hard to be sustainable and competitive in the league and harder to bridge the gap between the teams in Europe and the teams out of Europe. Bray tried this in 2017 and on the pitch were doing well unless funds became an issue. Limerick are another example where the chairman has invested a lot but funds are again drying up. The result in 2018 is that both of these teams are in the bottom 2.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Sligo Rovers FC Financial Update 2014-2017

Sligo Rovers legal set up is similar to Cork City in that they are a co-op operating under the legal name of "Sligo Football & Sports Development Society Limited" number 4473R. Sligo Rovers first played in the league of Ireland in 1934 and have been operating under this legal entity since May 1988. In the 4 years 2014-2017 Sligo have finished 5th, 9th, 5th and 9th again with very up and down league campaigns. In 2013 Sligo finished 3rd and won the FAI cup which put them in Europe in 2014 which has an impact on their accounts/revenue in 2014. Sligo as a co-op publish very detailed accounts like Cork which allows more review of the P&L which I will cover below. Sligo Rovers play at the Showgrounds which they lease from the Sligo Showgrounds Sporting Trust Foundation.

Profit & Loss

Over the 4 years in review Sligo Rovers broke even. I included an extra year as it looks like Sligo made and banked good profits in 2014 from Europe and tried to use this money in 2015 to get back into Europe. They haven't yet made that breakthrough and thus their income from 2015-2017 is lower than 2014.

In 2014 they made +€208k profit and had their highest revenue of the 4 years with €1.47m in revenue. In that year they had 2 European games and the prize money was €250k from that and the gates from the 2 European games were €115k. In terms of their revenue Europe was worth circa €365k and they haven't had this income since. As a result their income over the last 3 years is in the range of €1.05m with most of the drop from 2014 down to the lack of Europe.

The standout number in terms of Sligos revenue in the fundraising amounts. Over the 4 years the fundraising committee have raised circa +€1.55m or +€386k per annum. This is far more than I have noted in other clubs that published detailed accounts and even the 2017 directors report noted the "heroic" efforts of this committee or otherwise the loss of (€93k) would have been far worse. I think its safe to say that Sligo are the model for members clubs in being part of the community and raising money through the community.

In terms of comparisons of revenue, most clubs don't disclose a P&L but 4 clubs do. All 4 are in affect members owned clubs with no private backer. Harps played in the premier division in 2016 & 2017. This table shows the level of disparity in terms of resources available with unsurprisingly Cork doing the best of these 4 teams with decent European money over the 4 years. Cork City generated 66% more revenue than Sligo, 121% more than Bohs and 424% more than Harps. Of that circa €2m has come in European and League Prize money which shows the gap that success can drive.
Sligo Rovers have obviously managed their costs well in the 4 years with a break even position. Their main cost as with all clubs is players and Sligo Rovers have cut that Budget from (€733k) in 2014 to (€546k) in 2017. They have now in affect adapted to not having the European money and cut their cloth accordingly but now struggle to get back to Europe. In comparison Cork City have increased their playing budget from (€669k) in 2015 to (€894k) in 2017 and now spend 64% more than Sligo on the players/managers wages which obviously gives them a big advantage.

In the 4 years Sligo have charged circa (€80k) of depreciation and capital grant write offs to the P&L. This is not a cash item so over the 4 years the club would have made a circa +€70k cash profit.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet here like most clubs is fairly small with a net asset at Nov'17 of €97k. Since this co-op was founded almost 30 years ago the club have run up accumulated losses of (€110k) which for 30 years trading in this league is not a bad result at all.

The principle asset Sligo Rovers have is the development to the grounds which stands at €431k at Nov'17. The club are depreciating this asset to the tune of (€50k) per annum which is hitting their P&L each year and would be a non cash hit to the P&L.

Sligo would appear to have current and long term liabilities of (€448k) in the balance sheet however circa (€201k) of these relate to government grants that are being written off each year and assuming Sligo don't leave the showgrounds ultimately won't be repaid and are thus not a "real" liability. 


Overall Sligo Rovers look a very well run club, over their entire history trading with this entity they have lost very little and in these 4 years their reported loss is circa (€10k). They are very dependent on their links with the local community and what they fund raise through these links. This money has allowed Sligo to stay competitive in the premier division but as with other clubs there is a gap opening. With no European money in the last 3 years, Sligo have had to reduce budgets and that has impacted on their league position. 

They have a strong balance sheet, overall nothing in the accounts would show Sligo Rovers other than a well run club, with a good asset (The Showgrounds) to build upon, their challenge will be how to get back into the top 3 with no benefactor and no European money as clubs like Dundalk/Cork/Rovers continually benefit from these sources of income. That challenge is similar to all clubs in that position, the risk is that we don't chase the dream as most did 10/15 years ago and bankrupt ourselves in the process.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Bohemian FC Financial update 2015-2017


Bohemian FC are owned by "The Bohemian Football Club CLG" 8751. This is the oldest company in the league with it having been created in 1937 and Bohs have always used this as the trading entity. Bohs are a 100% members owned club and have been since they were formed in 1890. Bohs originally owned Dalymount Park but today they are a tenant in the stadium after they sold it to the council to resolve old debt issues. More on that later.  In the 3 years covered by the accounts Bohs finished 5th, 8th and 5th again. In talking about the recent 3 years I will refer to the previous years as they are important to understand where the club was coming from. While a lot of clubs restarted in the 2000's Bohs did not due to the ownership of Dalymount.

Profit & Loss

The P&L for Bohs over the last 3 years is impressive on first viewing. Per the accounts Bohs made a profit of +€1.7m from 2015 to 2017 however as the table below shows most of this was in 2015 and most was exceptional to do with the sale of Dalymount and the restructure of debt. When you exclude this exceptional income Bohs made a profit of +€79k over the 3 seasons.

At the end of the 2011 season due to the debt Bohs had incurred in "chasing the dream" there was a real fear that Bohs might not come back for the 2012 season. Thankfully Bohs did come back in 2012 and since then Bohs have run at a modest profit. Sadly in the previous 6 season's Bohs lost (€5.2m) and thus built up a lot of debt. In this 6 seasons Bohs had some success with 2 league win and 1 FAI cup win but it came at a very steep cost. The reason for the spending was due to the sale of Dalymount to Liam Carroll in 2006 for €65m Unfortunately due to a couple of issues but mainly the property downturn this deal never closed and Bohs were left with Dalymount but also a big debt due to borrowing on the strength of the sale in the Celtic tiger.

Bohs like most clubs don't give a detailed P&L so I can't comment on the numbers in any detail like the Cork City accounts, but the revenue at Bohs in 2017 was its best since 2012 so the club is moving in the right direction, gates are up 35% in 2018 v 2016 but still below 4 or 5 other clubs.

As a result of this since 2012 to 2016 Bohs primary focus was staying in the premier division while trying to resolve the debt legacy issues. Per the blog post on the league in general Bohs are no longer one of the big spenders on wages and as a result the league position has slipped back from the 2006 to 2011 era. Bohs have no external benefactor, nor any European football in this 3 year period so have just run at breakeven in that time. The real story of the last 3 years relates to the Balance sheet and is covered below.

Balance Sheet

At the end of Nov'14 which is the start of this 3 year period, Bohs had ran up accumulated debts of (€6.2m) and the principle asset they owned was Dalmount Park. Per the submitted accounts the principle debts were a (€4.4m) bank loan and members loans of nearly (€0.8m). This legacy debt, there since the end of 2011 was putting a strain on the club due to the uncertainty as to when the bank would call in its loan.

In the P&L to 2015 you will note above an exceptional income of circa +€1.7m and this relates to the resolution of the debt issues. At the end of Nov'15 Bohs debt was reduced to (€0.4m) but the ground was now sold to the council. Almost all of the net debt was then owed to members who contributed to fund the sale with members being owed circa (€0.35m) of the debt above. The exceptional item comes about in the fact in doing the deal with the banks and creditors, write downs on debt of circa +€1.5m was made by the club. There was also a small profit on the disposal of Dalymount of +€150k due to the carrying value in the books at the end of Nov'14 compared to the disposal price in 2015. 

Given that Bohs made circa +€50k profit over 2016 & 2017 combined the debt position at Bohs has remained fairly similar to the position at the end of 2015. However most of this debt is owed to member rather than 3rd parties which gives Bohs some comfort.


During the 2015 year Bohs future was sorted thanks to the efforts of the then board, members, the FAI and the local politicians. On top of that the future of Dalymount was resolved with the famous ground set to remain a football stadium and with the council to start work on a new stadium in 2020. In the last 6 years (2012 to 2017) Bohs have run a prudent budget with the club making small profits most of those years, excluding exceptional items & interest that was rolled up and ultimately written off in 2015. Given the losses in the previous 6 years it is no surprise that the club has been run in this manner.

Overall though while not a successful 3 years on the pitch a very successful 3 years off the pitch financially. The challenge for Bohs now is how do they compete with the likes of the clubs that a) have regular European income or b) have a benefactor. Bohs came close in 2017 to a 4th place finish that would have had them in Europe in 2018 but ultimately finished 4 points behind Derry for that spot. This is a challenge that 5/6 clubs in the premier division will have in the coming seasons as the income from Europe increases.