NUFC have released their accounts for last season (21/22).
Lest you’ve forgotten, the new owners bought the club on 7/10/21. This is the first set of accounts since 2007 without Mike Ashley as owner. And for the first time in years, they’re not the last to file their accounts! As a result, we don’t have all the 21/22 financial results from other clubs to compare against. Come back Ashley!!
Let’s start with a quick summary before we get into the detail.
What are the key highlights?
The headline figure is that NUFC made a record loss of £70.7m. But my view is that there’s several key messages that we can take beyond that headline.
Firstly, nobody should be in any doubt (and I know there’s still a few doubters) that the consortium are 100% behind NUFC.
The accounts show that the new owners have already poured huge amounts of cash into the club. Nearly £300m since the purchase (£170m in 21/22 and a further £127m so far in 22/23). And to be clear, this money isn’t by way of loans which the owners will expect to claw back in the future (a model that crippled us for 14 years). It’s share capital. The club is now essentially debt free, the only club in the PL to be so.
Whilst this owner investment is substantial, it’s not unique. What has been achieved should be taken in the context of owner funding and transfer spend at other clubs over a sustained period that actually dwarves that of NUFC’s. We’ll take a look at PL owner funding, transfer spend and squad costs. That will challenge the narrative that NUFC have essentially bought the progress they have made under the new owners. Others have tried and failed miserably.
Unfortunately for us, the owners can’t continue to pour in money on this sort of scale (and comply with Financial Fair Play rules). NUFC now have the highest Wages : Turnover ratio in the PL. We are purportedly on the edge of the Financial Fair Play limits.
So the next challenge for the club is to massively increase the income it generates. NUFC can’t continue to spend at the current levels without doing this. Champions League football would be a game changer. Income across all sources (match day, commercial and broadcasting) would explode as a result.
My final key message is that whilst £70m appears a big financial loss (and it is!), we should remind ourselves that NUFC lay 2nd bottom of the PL when the Staveley consortium took over. If the new owners had not invested as they did in 21/22, they would have been relegated. No question. And the loss to NUFC would have been far, far greater than £70m to get back to the PL.
The value of the club will undoubtedly have risen since 7/10/21. If the consortium were to put the club up for sale now, they may very well get their money back and some. Ashley managed to do that after 14 years, two relegations and multiple relegation battles. I’ll let you decide which is the best model for increasing a club’s value.
Ok, we’ll look at all this in detail so let’s get behind the numbers. Firstly, let’s look at the changes from the previous year (20/21). Remember, for comparison purposes, the accounts for 20/21 were only for 11 months.
The loss (after tax) has increased by £59.3m from £12.3m to £70.7m. Unsurprisingly, this is the biggest loss in the club’s history. And we’ll no doubt continue to see financial records smashed in the coming years.
As heavy a loss as it is for NUFC, it still was not the biggest in the PL. Manchester United and the Glazers. Take a bow.
Despite the loss, income has already risen under the new owners. The first step on a very long road. Turnover increased by £39.8m (28%) from £140.2m to £180.0m. Despite this rise, Newcastle are still in the bottom half of PL clubs in terms of revenue. The graph below shows the challenge that faces NUFC to become truly competitive. We must increase our revenue. You can read how we can do this and why it is so important in my previous article on the income gap with the “Big 6”.
In the linked article, it focuses on NUFC’s income relative to the “big 6”. The graph below is possibly more insightful. This shows our income relative to mid-ranking PL clubs. It shows how the likes of Leeds, West Ham and Aston Villa caught up with Ashley’s NUFC and then surpassed them. We are the ones now playing catch up under the new ownership.
Matchday income increased to £27.5m after the return of supporters to stadiums at the start of the 21/22 season following the end of the global pandemic. This was the highest matchday income since 2007/08. We are currently ranked 8th in terms of match day revenue.
Media income rose £4.8m (4%) from £119.3m to £124.1m, reflecting an increased merit award due to the higher league finish of 11th (2020-21: 12th) and an increase in the number of live TV appearances to 21 (2020-21 :18). We are currently ranked 11th in terms of media income.
Commercial income increased £8.9m (52%) from £17.6m to £26.5m, reflecting the first year of the Castore sponsorship, increased revenue from Premier League and Club commercial partners, and the return of matchday and non-matchday commercial activities and events. We know there are new deals already in the pipeline but these are not yet reflected in the accounts. These will come. We are currently ranked 12th in terms of commercial income.
Income was boosted by profit on player sales of £5.8m. This is a poor return for a PL club and is an income stream we will have to improve in the future. When was the last time we sold a player for a decent fee? Recent academy results would suggest that this is going to take some time and a lot of investment.
But whilst income rose by nearly £40m, costs rocketed by over £100m. This, unsurprisingly, has been driven by the huge recruitment in personnel since the takeover. It’s on a level that has not been seen on Tyneside since Alan Shearer arrived in a world record transfer fee back in 1995.
Wages increased by £63.4m (59%) from £106.8m to £170.2m due mainly to the players brought in during January 22 and the multi-million pound pay-off for Steve Bruce & his team. The average wage is £79k per week.
The wages also included the creation of a provision for ‘onerous contracts’ (£15m) which is essentially the club recognising in the accounts players who are crap but will still cost us a fortune to see out their contracts (see Jeff Hendrick as Exhibit A). We are ranked 9th in terms of wages which highlights how the team is over-performing under Eddie Howe.
Just to further highlight the need to increase revenue is the key wages : turnover ratio. This has increased from 70% to 95%. We now have the highest ratio in the PL.
Amortisation is the other cost which rocketed as a result of the transfer splurge last January. Amortisation is the cost of a transfer fee divided by the length of the contract. This has increased by £17.4m (54%) from £32.3m to £49.7m. We are ranked 11th in terms of amortisation. Again, a clear indicator that Howe has the team over-performing.
The extent of NUFC’s transfer spend in 21/22 is laid bare by this graph. However, whilst NUFC had undoubtedly invested heavily in January 22, other clubs spent far more over the season.
This relative spend of other clubs in the period prior to the new owners arriving (16/17 to 20/21) shows how far NUFC lagged behind in terms of squad investment. Southampton spent more cash on transfers than NUFC over this period! We had a huge amount of catching up to do.
Whilst we’re beginning to catch up, the cost of our squad at the end of last season was still only the 9th highest in the PL. Despite the narrative, NUFC are hugely over-performing to be pushing for the Champions League this season. This has to be down to Eddie Howe and his coaching staff.
Other costs of note incurred in 21/22 is a £1m pay-off to a former Director (presumably Lee Charnley), £2.7m spent on the training ground and an accrual raised for the potential cost of the HMRC case that the new owners have inherited from Ashley. They inherited problems and one by one are resolving them.
The club is now debt free after the new owners paid off the millstone of Ashley’s loan that has been hanging around the club’s neck for 13 years.
I highlighted at the outset that NUFC’s new owners had made a huge investment in the club since 7/10/21 but they are not unique. The owners of several other clubs have made equally heavy investment and not got anywhere near the Champions League.
“It’s the dawning of a new era” sang the Specials. After 14 years of frugality, Newcastle’s spending is going to be a bit of a culture shock to NUFC fans. We’re probably going to rack up a significant financial loss this season as well as last. My advice is not to worry about it. The club is not going to go into administration with the richest people on the planet owning it!
The only concern with NUFC racking up losses is complying with FFP rules. Everton is a salutary example of front-ending losses and then struggling to comply in later years.
But if NUFC qualify for the Champions League, those concerns disappear. Everything changes.
Andy Trobe – @TFAT1892
Source – we have drawn from the excellent Swiss Ramble (click here) – which we’d recommend to you – the graphs within the above article are from their twitter feed as we’re far too bone idle to knock our own up.