Maidstone United have announced their financial results for the 2018/19 season. This comes at a time when the COVID-19 crisis has pulled the rug out from under the club this season. The future is now uncertain.
The consolidated business in 2018/19 made a profit of £9,739, on an EBITDA* basis, which is the seventh consecutive season a profit has been returned.
Turnover was £1,764,840 – broadly in line with the club’s previous two seasons in the National League.
The playing budget was some 15% higher year on year, as the club tried, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to compete in National League, with daytime training and a quasi-full-time structure. It also bore the costs of two management changes during the season.
Profits were also adversely affected by a restructuring of the club’s football academy and some reduction in attendances due to poor home performances and this despite a good FA Cup run.
Maidstone United’s business strategy is to be self-financing, without owner subsidy or external loans. This depends on the 3G artificial pitch income helping to support men’s first team football activities.
This strategy aims to preserve the long-term viability of the football club and safeguard its role as an important sporting and social facility in the local community. It has also enabled stadium extensions to be carried out, as and when necessary, in order to enable promotions to higher divisions. However, even this superb facility cannot withstand the impact of a near total loss of income with which the club is now faced from March 2020 onwards.
Co-owner Terry Casey said: “Despite those respectable figures, the tight cash flow position continued into this season. The forecast for 2019/20 was for a similar result to 2018/19 but now this is all up in the air and our only focus is to enable the club to survive in the face of a dramatic loss of income streams.
“We also hope and pray for the health and welfare of the thousands of people connected to the club – players, staff, volunteers, supporters and business partners.
“We made public a few weeks ago that we were looking for additional or alternative investors who could strengthen our business by bringing in further capital. We had a few conversations underway but nothing concrete is likely to come of this in the current climate.”
Club co-owner Oliver Ash said: “We are pleased to have been able to remain profitable for the seventh season in a row. However, all this pales into insignificance given the scale of the challenge we now face. Public health and well-being are paramount today.
“Football as we know it is many weeks away from returning. Even before the COVID-19 crisis many smaller pro or semi-pro clubs were facing desperate times due to overspending or mismanagement. Now some may struggle to survive.
“Despite the crisis facing us we have the duty to look ahead to areas within the game where clubs could strengthen their finances and reduce their risk of bankruptcy. We should no longer look gift horses in the mouth.
“The simple win is obtained by relaxing the ill-conceived EFL/NL rule which obliges clubs promoted to the EFL to remove their 3G pitches immediately at great cost to them and to the environment.
“If a two-year grace period, before having to replace a 3G pitch, was allowed in League 2 it would encourage more National League clubs to switch to a 3G pitch, reap the financial rewards and thereby protect both club and supporters.”
(* EBITDA is earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization – a key measure of a company’s operating performance).