FINANCIAL STABILITY IMPROVING IN CONFERENCE CLUBS
The Directors of the Football Conference were pleased to receive figures presented at their last monthly Board meeting (11th November) indicating a considerable reduction in total monies owed by member Clubs to HMRC for PAYE, NIC and VAT.
From an estimated sum of £1.6m last season concerted efforts over the past twelve months has seen a dramatic reduction to below £400k, as at the last reporting period (31 October).
Under a Financial Reporting Initiative, designed to nurture sustainability, Clubs are required to submit a quarterly return relating to their financial trading. The Initiative was adopted by the Clubs in 2009. It is believed the scheme is encouraging more Clubs to live within their means, and is responsible for increasing accountability in respect of Crown debt.
Quite naturally, the Board is keen to continue promoting a conscientious response. Further practices and monitoring will, therefore, be introduced in the next 12 months to deal with other issues allied to financial prudence. In the past three years 13 Clubs have been subject to a winding-up petition, six have ceased to trade, and another entered into a CVA. It is abundantly clear, the Board’s aims & objectives to improve good governance and raise fiscal awareness amongst its members, is in the interest of each member and protects the integrity of the Competition. The industry cannot afford to lose any more Clubs: every participant within the game has a responsibility to protect and insure football’s future.
Commenting on The Conference’s latest findings, Chairman Brian Lee stated “We are really pleased with the improvements seen in the report to the Board. It is good news that there has been a substantial decrease owed to the Revenue but that is only part of our overall strategy to achieve a debt free membership. Collectively the Football Conference has been derided in certain sections of the football community for our stance. The current Board will not be deflected from our vision for the future. We have to be strong for the benefit of the majority of clubs who do play by the rules and we are of course mindful of the pain and hurt caused to fans when clubs are sanctioned for their inability to live within their means. We are heartened to see our strong stance on these issues being rewarded. The accounts each club must now submit on a quarterly basis allows us to be proactive in offering assistance where we can but we have scope and wish to see other areas tightened up. Until the member clubs receive details of the proposals to be introduced next season it would be wrong at this stage to say anything publicly for obvious reasons”.
Mr Lee continued, “As Chairman of the Football Conference I am proud to head up a group of dedicated directors who have been instrumental in leading the way for the whole of the game and who will not be deflected from their vision to improve how clubs operate financially. Clubs have to be honest and trust us to keep all matters confidential. The message we are sending out though is clear. For those who wish to mislead, give inaccurate or false information; there will be severe sanctions”.
The report identified 47clubs were fully up to date with HMRC payments, compared with 39 this time last season. 12 more had agreements to cover outstanding arrears, against 22 last year, and 5 Clubs had no agreement in place but their debt to HMRC was less than three months old. The 3 remaining clubs in the current membership have issues which, amongst other sanctions, have resulted in them being placed under player embargo until they are compliant with the current regulations.
Lee confirmed “It is clear from these club statistics that 12 months down the line we are turning the corner but it is against a backdrop that at the end of this season a number of member clubs will move out of the overall competition, either by promotion or relegation, which in turn will bring others into membership, and who knows what issues they may bring with them. We obviously do wish to see the day when all matters are decided on the field of play but until the day all clubs live within their means, the Football Conference will continue to lead the way as these latest figures clearly and ably demonstrate”.