Motherwell Football Club held its 109th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday night where the accounts for the 2013-14 season were presented to shareholders.
The new-look board of directors updated shareholders on recent changes at the club following on from Les Hutchison’s acquisition of John Boyle’s majority shareholding, which include ongoing improvements in scouting, physical fitness and performance, and planned developments in sales and marketing.
Manager Ian Baraclough, who succeeded Stuart McCall in mid-December, explained there would be a greater emphasis on developing young players next season as part of the drive to make the club financially self-sufficient.
Chairman Brian McCafferty outlined the ambition to further develop the mutual benefits brought about by even stronger links between the club and the community as he highlighted the work done by the Motherwell FC Community Trust in touching the lives of 35,000 people each year, and stressed the need for more supporters to join the Well Society.
General manager Alan Burrows outlined plans to give supporters greater value for money in their match day experience.
The club made a loss on ordinary activities before taxation of £184,854 in the 12 months to May 31, 2014 – an almost identical figure to the previous season.
Although the club finished second in the Scottish Premiership, factors including the ongoing lack of an SPFL sponsor, disappointing cup performances, a high medical bill and a £350,000 fall in gate receipts, all contributed to another annual loss.
Turnover was about £4.5million, down from £4.9million while transfer income was £302,500 – up from £108,500.
Staff costs were down £160,000, while gate receipts fell more than £350,000 to £1.31million.
Sponsorship/advertising income, broadcasting rights and commercial income were all very similar to the previous season but UEFA prize money was down a quarter to £311,000. Other income rose slightly to £743,000.
In an extract from the report of the directors, Derek Weir wrote: “As we have said in previous reports, our target each year is to break even. Our higher than budgeted league position did generate higher than forecast prize money but once again the distributions from the SPFL were lower than hoped for due to the lack of a title sponsor. Our inability to generate any meaningful revenue from cup competitions, combined with a significant medical bill, as a result of 12 player operations, more than compensated for the additional place money, leading to a loss of £184,854.
“Following last year’s successful league campaign and with Rangers, Hearts and Hibs all playing in the Championship, we agreed to retain Stuart’s player wage budget at the same level for the third successive season, in the hope that we would be able to build further on the success. Contrary to what is often reported, we did not reduce budgets every year and maintained a squad firmly aimed at achieving a top six finish. Following a seriously disappointing exit from the Europa League in Iceland, elimination from both domestic cup competitions in the first round and a realisation that a top six league position was highly unlikely, it was clear to the board that a fresh injection of funds was going to be required. The position was made worse by reduced season ticket and commercial revenues, despite last season’s successful league campaign.
“The Well Society were already in discussion with Les Hutchison on their own fund raising ventures and plans for the club. These discussions evolved to the point that Les agreed to make a sizeable, interest-free loan to the club and facilitate the transition of ownership from John Boyle to the Well Society. The transfer is dependent on the club and Society repaying Les’ loan. I am happy to report the transfer of shares from John to Les took place on 30th January 2015 and the loan funds are available to the club. In addition the Well Society has continued to support the club with loans and we remain extremely grateful to the Society board and membership. Les’ extensive business experience and strong desire to support the local community will be hugely beneficial to the club and his involvement is greatly welcomed.
“His aim is to help the Well Society achieve ownership and it is important that all fans get behind this initiative.”