Draw leaves Bairns fans feeling Blue

Falkirk announced favourable accounts for 2013-14
Falkirk announced favourable accounts for 2013-14

Falkirk’s financial figures 
released ahead of next week’s annual general meeting are a contrast to previous years papers.

Things, according to the 
balance sheet and the chairman’s report, are looking up at The Falkirk Stadium.

26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie.

26-11-2012. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Stadium. Falkirk Football Club AGM, finance interview with club chairman Martin Ritchie.

The bottom line showed a £90,000 profit, compared to a £210,000 loss the previous year. Turnover also increased year-on-year in the figures to the end of May this year.

There was £222,943 resting in the Bairns bank account on the last day of the season 2013/14 and chairman Martin Ritchie attributes this down to a number of factors - including the new football structure in Scotland and transfer income – in an unusually bright chairman’s report.

In it he states the club has taken “significant steps towards establishing financial security” and the Bairns have “established a sound platform for building a sustainable business and a successful football team” as the company “made remarkable progress”.

Mr Ritchie was invited to discuss the figures and papers in more detail with The Falkirk Herald, but as with previous years he declined and elected “to discuss the figures with the shareholders first”.

The positive figures of the year would have been even higher had the Falkirk FC Events company not turned a loss with the ambitious three-day concert held in June 2013.

While Status Quo and the Saturday nostalgia acts were a success, Ronan Keating failed to attract the expected and required audience and the event made an £80,000 loss. Rod Stewart figures will be significantly better – but won’t figure until next May’s accounts and papers.

But that doesn’t detract from the upbeat tone of the chairman’s report.

Usually Mr Ritchie’s opening gambit is prefaced by words like ‘struggled’ and any positivity off-set by caution.

This year, the opening sentence is simple, to the point, and happy - “I am pleased to report that in the last 12 months your Company has made remarkable progress.”

He adds: “The investment in our academy and in our player pathway over the last ten years is now giving us real returns. Las year’s profit was due largely to transfer income, though we have also made good progress reducing the gap between operating income and operating costs. Following the year-end, the sales of Stephen Kingsley and Conor McGrandles transformed our balance sheet.”

A significant proportion of Mr Ritchie’s good news is attributed to the formation in June 2012 of the Scottish Professional Football league which Falkirk pushed for, side-by-side with Hamilton.

He adds: “The past year has seen a number of positive changes. It was the first season of the new Scottish Professional Football League which contributed both in terms of excitement of the play-offs and the additional payments received.”

These payments are not listed explicitly in the accounts but are believed to total £300,000.

Transfer income drastically increased with the sales of Lyle Taylor, Jay Fulton and Mark Stewart all being accounted for within £572,692, plus add-ons for Murray Wallace. And though Mr Ritchie was cautious over the transfers, it did end on a positive note: “The cash position (for the football side of the business) was difficult throughout the year until the Mark Stewart case was settled in April. As a result, this year we did not need to put season tickets on sale early – a step in the right direction.”

The artificial pitch installation cost £316,000 but the savings from moving from Stirling University to the Stadium will not be fully realised until next year”.

Mr Ritchie closed his statement by thaning staff, volunteers, sponsors and supporters and added: “I hope we can reward them with a more successful and secure future”.