In just the second season in which the accounts of football clubs in the English Premier League and Football League have come under the scrutiny of Financial Fair Play rules, the annual survey has revealed that only one Scottish football club from the top three divisions is showing signs of critical financial distress, down by two-thirds since a year ago, and by 75% since 2012.
The Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert Football Distress Report provides annual snapshots of financial distress in 72 English and 32 Scottish football clubs. South of the border, the report’s latest figures reveal that just three clubs in the English Championship and Leagues One and Two are suffering from serious financial distress.
“The Rangers saga has dominated the headlines for years and recent loans from Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct have kept the club on the front pages again but Rangers isn’t technically the most financially stressed club in Scotland, as a result of the recent cash injection,” said football finance expert Ken Pattullo of rescue and recovery specialist Begbies Traynor in Scotland.
“Overall, an increased wariness among the other big clubs to spend heavily on transfers for fear of being the next big failure, and general good business planning in the boardrooms, has stabilised what was a really dangerous situation for the sport in Scotland,” he commented.
“With a lack of money in the Scottish game, due largely to Rangers’ enforced exit from the SPL, and the ensuing dearth of TV money, clubs have been wisely cutting their cloth accordingly and have largely avoided splashing out on players in the last two or three transfer windows.”
Pattullo added: “In England, as well as Financial Fair Play, the fit and proper test of club owners has been tightened up considerably, and just as we are seeing among the Scottish clubs, owners are taking responsible action earlier where there are problems, and we are seeing clubs being offered for sale or investment ‘off market’ ahead of the critical point where the business fails.”
Average attendances across the Scottish Premier, Championship and Leagues One and Two are down by 5% since the previous Football Distress Report, a fall that is due in part to the recent boycott of Rangers games by disgruntled supporters.
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