Sunday, 21 August 2011

Franchise finance

One of the ways in which Franchise customers are both wrong and unwittingly hilarious is over the way the football club is run. They often proudly proclaim how sensibly Franchise FC is run financially, meanwhile still maintaining that Wimbledon FC had to move to survive. What makes this astonishing is that the facts simply do not reflect this at all. It's as if there is some form of group hypnosis going on where most of them have been brainwashed into believing these things, even though the actual facts prove the opposite. The pinnacle of hilarity comes when these customers ridicule clubs like Plymouth, Luton, Stockport and others, who have been in administration or other financial trouble, little realising the mess Franchise FC has been in from the start and is still in.

Let's look at some numbers for Franchise FC, going back several years. All figures taken from the annual accounts of the Milton Keynes club:

Operating loss (excludes player sales)
2004-5: £2,367,171
2005-6: £2,290,153
2006-7: £2,995,275
2007-8: £1,957,298
2008-9: £1,950,758
2009-10: £1,446,851

(NB the club has never made an operating profit.)

That means that over 6 years, Franchise FC has made a loss on its operating activities of a staggering £13m. Some of this has been offset by player sales and compensation received for manager moves, but for a club that has spent all that time in the bottom two divisions of the Football League, it is a staggering level of loss, most certainly not indicative of a club being run well or within its means.

Some have claimed that the losses are at least getting smaller, but that is precisely the sort of thinking that has got every other financially troubled football club into deep water. A loss is a loss, and when the smallest ever loss is nearly £1.5m, the business clearly has a fundamental problem of unsustainability.

To highlight the problem, in the last ever set of audited accounts submitted by Wimbledon Football Club Limited (year 2000-1), the club posted a staggering operating loss of £7,069,128. Now, you might think that shows Franchise isn't so badly off, but look a little deeper and the picture is very different. In those same WFC accounts it says, "Post year end sales of player registrations amounted to £5,540,000". In other words, the actual loss for the year was under £1.5m, a far cry from the horrendous figures used in public and to the FA Commission to justify the move. (More of that another time.)

So, what are Franchise FC's actual losses since 2004? Even after player sales and manager compensation, the football club has lost a toe-curling £10,011,865. £10m in six years. Does that sound like a sustainable, well run football club to you? No, of course it doesn't, it sounds like a football club being run either as a rich man's plaything or a football club that is inevitably going to end up the way all other clubs that live beyond their means do.

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