FANS FORUM REPORT - PART 3
On Thursday 17th April 2003 close to 400 Wanderers' fans packed into The Vere Suite at Adams Park to hear the views of Club officials as well as having a chance to air their own opinions and questions. Chairboys on the Net has prepared a number of reports from the evening, continuing here with a speech by the Club's Financial Director and acting Chief Executive Rod Tomlin.

Fans Forum Tomlin, who has been a Director of the Wanderers since August 2000, was thrown into the acting Chief Executive role after the shock departure of Simon Monkman in October 2002. Tomlin commented "I picked up a ball that somebody else dropped a little while ago. I pretty sure I'm still holding it. In fact we try and keep a number of balls up at the same time and I'm not so sure that we've actually dropped any yet. So I think it's moving in the right direction but financially you probably ought to know that it's pretty tough"

Tomlin went on to say that the income the Club generated could be split into three chunks, commenting "A third of it is the conference centre where you sit now and there's about 8,000 sq ft of space that we try and sell and not just on matchdays with hospitality packages but during the week and we are making some good progress in that area. Another third of it is matchday receipts, season ticket sales and all of that type of income which relates to the football business and the other third of it is sponsorship, hospitality packages, ground board, advertising and so one and so forth."

Tomlin said that all three of those areas of incoming together would produce for the 2002/3 season a loss he estimated at around 400,000. However, the Wanderers Financial Director implied that this figure was inflated by non-cash items such as players' contracts and added "Everybody, including me, will tell you that running a football business is all about managing cash. So the cash part of that says to me and I say to you that in cash terms this year we will lose about 100,000."

The acting Chief Executive then went on to detail some of the areas that went to towards the projected loss, starting with the obligatory mention of ITV Digital. "If I didn't mention ITV Digital somebody here would. It was bit of knock back for us but in terms of the replacement revenue from the BSKYB deal and the ITV highlights package and some additional funding from the Football League, as a Division two club we have just about broken even in terms of the additional revenue from the Football League and TV sources compared to what we would have got from ITV Digital. This year is pretty much in balance, there is not much of a gap. So the loss I mention is not a great deal to do with ITV Digital."

Tomlin bemoaned the drop in gate receipts for the 2002/3 season, declaring that the net average gate was down from around 5,800 in 2001/2 to just over 5,100. This coming after the Club had budgeted for a slight increase of around 100. Tomlin stated, "A guess budget we are down about 11,000 per game. That's the effect. Multiple that by 23 matches and we are down 260,000 on the gate. Add that back to where we started and it wouldn't have been so bad." Interestingly the drop in average gates came after an increase of around 100 in the total number of Season Tickets sold.

After praising Lawrie Sanchez for keeping the players wages 150,000 under budget, he went on to explain that around 400,000 had been added to the brewery loan at the beginning of the season, partly to finance the massive expenditure of installing the Desso pitch and undersoil heating. Tomlin commented "That worked pretty well and that was a good investment for us as the Chairman mentioned. But in overall cash terms what it's actually meant is that we are now pretty hard up against cash limits and so for next season the flexibility of being able to move our borrowing up against a limit - to borrow more from the brewery, or something like that - we haven't got too many places to go when it comes to cash resources next season. So what we have to, and we are in the middle of this exercise now, is to ensure that we run the business at least at break even level next season, which is quite a tall order but that's actually where we need to be." Tomlin concluded his assessment of the Club's finances by saying "You need to bear in mind around that, that we've got an asset base, Adams Park, Training Ground of some 4m. So we are in a relatively strong position as a company but in terms of trading profit/loss we've actually got to get our act together a little bit better."

Tomlin also covered the subject of communication, stating "I believe that we are now communicating, as between the club and you lot, the fanbase, the most valuable commodity we've actually got, very loyal, stable and so on and so forth, pretty effectively." It was also stated the Club's official website now had 7,000 registered users although the take up on the subscription based Wanderers World Audio/Visual package had been slow. He added "We have some reservations about whether the Football League/Premium TV package around the website is really serving us particularly well. It may change in the future. You have got to bear in mind that when we took on that package that we received 150,000 of advanced revenue. So it was a good deal for us at the time. You have got your own views whether it's an effective representation of what we are all about in communication terms."

Fans Forum 17th April 2003 - Intro and index to other reports


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