Walsall Accounts: Profits down but so is debt
Walsall's profits crashed but their overall debt was 'significantly' cut following a season which saw the club narrowly avoid relegation.
Figures for the 12 months to the end of May, just released by the football club, show the Saddlers scraped a trading profit of just £9,000.
That compares to the £215,000 pre-tax profit the club made the previous year.
But chairman Jeff Bonser has highlighted that the club has 'significantly' cut its debts by £279,000 during the year.
At the same time turnover at the club, from a combination of match receipts, money from televised games and other commercial income, fell by more than £780,000 - down to £5.85 million from £6.64m the year before.
Despite its unhappy performance on the pitch, the club's loyal fans still turned up week in, week out – with takings for matches falling by just £10,000 to £1.09 million.
Although the number of players and coaching staff at the club rose to 90 during the year, the wage bill remained fairly static at £3.1 million.
Renumeration for the directors, including Jeff Bonser, totalled £164,000, £20,000 less than the year before.
Mr Bonser was also paid £288,000 in repayments on loans he has made to the club in the past. He is still owed more than £1.1 million.
On the transfer front, the accounts showed Walsall sold Andreas Makris to APOEL Nicosia for £110,000. They bought him 12 months earlier from Anorthosis Famagusta for £175,000.
In a statement, Mr Bonser said "On-the-pitch, it was difficult season as we flirted with relegation but crucially managed to preserve our League One Status.
"Ultimately, a series of poor results culminated in the club parting ways with team manager, Jon Whitney, back in March with former player and fans’ favourite, Dean Keates, being installed as his successor once a compensation package had been agreed with Wrexham AFC.
"Despite only being in situ for a short period of time, Dean has already made a significant impact at the club and is putting his stamp on things. He has already brought in his own staff and is in the process of restructuring the football department including the vital scouting system and recruitment network. Importantly, the players have really responded to him and I am incredibly optimistic for what the future holds."
Turning to the finances, he said: "Off the pitch, the conference & events, commercial and retail departments have all performed well, generating significant profits which were ploughed back into the core football business and we enjoyed our first full year of trading on the Midpoint M6 LED screens which have been a resounding success."
Mr Bonser also offered his thanks to the supporters: "As always, they have been exceptional during what was a very tough season and I would like to assure them all that all of our efforts are focused on giving them a team and a club to be proud of."
Walsall Football Club pays Mr Bonser's pension fund £440,000 a year in rent to play at the Banks's Stadium. He bought the freehold of the ground through the pension fund, owned by finance firm Suffolk Life. But earlier this year he told fans in a meeting that he would like to see the club, or Walsall Council, buy the freehold from Suffolk Life.