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Held to account

Last week, AFCW PLC released its year-end accounts. Rather than your editor going through it, he got somebody with a bit of knowledge to write some words. As of time of writing, this isn’t on the OS, although having checked back the 2009 one doesn’t seem to be either…

Thanks to Nick of Woking for the conclusions below. SW19 will add a few comments afterwards.

The AFCW PLC (“AFCW”) consolidated accounts for the year ended 30 June 2010 were sent to shareholders in AFCW last week.  The accounts cover the results of all of the operations of the football club but do not include the Dons Trust.

To get a full understanding of the position of “the Club” as a whole, there are some places where you need to adjust the amounts reported in the AFCW accounts to reflect the full picture.

Essentially, I think that the accounts give insight into two questions which we are all interested in, how sound is the position of the Club and how are we set for the future.

How sound is our position?

In terms of the position of the club, the best insight here comes from looking at the consolidated balance sheet (reflecting what we had and what we owed at 30 June).  Overall this shows that AFCW had net assets (ie assets over and above what we owed) of some £1.8m.  The make-up of this sum can be summarised as:


The amount owing to the Dons Trust is owed to another part of the “Club”, however part of this includes the amount raised by the Dons Trust Bonds, which was lent by the DT to AFCW but ultimately is “owed” by the Club as a whole – though the underlying bondholders are generally supporters and so would be unlikely to demand repayment in a way which would endanger the Club.

No breakdown of accruals and deferred income is provided – some of this will be normal costs for expenses etc. that are not yet due for payment but much of it will represent season ticket money received in advance (the accounts are drawn up at 30 June so a lot of the season ticket money for 2010/11 would have been received, as well as the cash received for 5 year season tickets).

This “income received in advance” doesn’t need to be repaid so the only substantial external debt that we had was the bank loan, which is shown as an amount of £597k, of which £41k was repayable in the next year, and the DT bonds.

The accounts do show the amounts which we have to pay in the next year exceeding assets (other than the stadium) by some £197k but again some £194k of these short term debts are to the Dons Trust and £390k is made up of Accruals and deferred income, much of which will just be cash received for season tickets, so overall even the short-term position seems reasonably sound.

Overall then, the picture is very much of a pretty strong financial condition, but with no great “pot of gold” available to be drawn down for short-term spending – our asset is the stadium and this is soundly funded but we certainly don’t have a big cash pile on hand and we need to continue generating the surplus cash to make the loan and bond repayments as due.

How are we set for the future?

The only real guide to the future that we can get from the accounts is by looking at the results for the year and seeing which elements are sustainable and which are not.

The accounts show a loss for the year of some £89k but overall AFCW’s assets increased by £121k, as this loss was offset by a capital injection of £210k from the Dons Trust.

This injection reflected the proceeds of fund-raising which had been lent to AFCW and which was then converted into shares (the Dons Trust also lent a further £227k to AFCW in the year so the total debt remained approximately the same over the year).  It is this increase in net assets which is probably the more meaningful measure of the Club’s results for the year.

While an increase in resources is never a bad thing it is worth looking in a bit more detail at some of the items making it up.  These include a gain of £100k for the Chris Hussey transfer and £147k of donations included within income (no breakdown is given of these donations but it is likely to include a combination of small donations given with season tickets etc. and larger amounts from our key individual supporters).

Without these two items, our loss for the year would have been £336k, or an outflow of £126k even with the Dons Trust money.  Of course, this isn’t really a fair measure as it is clear that to some extent the wage bill is set as a residual (that is, the wage bill is set to reflect the cash which is prudently available) so if we had had less income we would simply have had to pay lower wages.

Overall, the wage bill for the year was some £894k, which includes players and other paid staff (but does not – of course – reflect the significant value of volunteers’ time).  This represented a 15% rise on the previous year but still gave a reasonably sensible wage-to-turnover ratio of only 54%.

The key message which can be taken from this is that the level of wage spending which was saw last year was a sustainable one based on income for the year but that its continuation and any increase will rely on some combination of:

  • continuing donations from generous supporters
  • continuing fundraising by the DT (though I think that this source is more properly seen as generating the resources to repay ourdebts rather than supporting ongoing spending)
  • an improvement in revenues, whether from ticket sales, TV or other commercial activities
  • future transfer revenues (which can of course never be guaranteed or relied upon).

Overall, there is nothing in the results for last year that really rings any alarm bells but it seems to me that the fact that we are already drawing on so many sources to support our spending just goes to vindicate the emphasis in Erik’s Directors’ Report on the need to develop our own young players, as we are clearly not going to be in a position to massively increase wage without significant increases in the above sources of funding – all of which are likely to prove difficult in the current climate.

Once again, many thanks to Nick for these words.

What will be very interesting is these accounts this time next year. It’s worth pointing out that these figures for a part time outfit, and as such the wage bill – £805,644 in 2010, £696,126 in 2009 – is likely to get higher still. And that’s with the stay-at-home-with-mum approach we’re taking right now.

It’s times like this when you realise just how important things like getting on ESPN for the Ebbsfleet game, and the second round tie on ITV this Saturday is. In addition, the PLC is stating in black and white about how important it is to have its youth policy up and running. And pushing for the League is clearly vital, as the report states:

We have made futher progress in preparing for the senior team’s return to the Football League. This would open many doors for us at youth level – most importantly in being able to establish a “Centre of Excellence” (CoE). The Youth Development Programme objective is to be able to fulfill the criteria of CoE membership within one season of the event. We are well placed to do so, but the biggest challenge is to secure adequate training facilities.

At the risk of stating the most painfully obvious, to do that we will require the first team to keep producing the goods on the pitch, no easy feat in the era of Crawley and Luton.

In absence of significant external investment – and how long will that be before that becomes an option? – we will need to either get through to moneyspinners like the FA Cup, or in true Wimbledon FC style develop players to be sold to teams like Norwich City.

We’ve yet to properly experience the latter, and it will be a major test of our setup and credentials. Some would argue that we never fully replaced Chris Hussey from last year, and we’ll need to produce our own Chris Bush type players.

Finally, and perhaps to illustrate this point more and more, here’s the turnover. Or in laymans terms, where the money is raised:


It’s when you look at this and you realise just how much we rely on match receipts, prize money and what we take in the bars. All of which are related to the actual game itself.

The game on the Saturday (or whenever it’s scheduled) has always been the most important area of any football club, but when you add the sums of match receipts and bar takings alone (by far the two biggest money spinners), you realise just how important it is to keep ourselves popular.

Which is why the club is now promoting things like the carvery. Next year, we will get to see how popular it really is – less people were obviously using bars/catering last season – and how much we’re losing out because we don’t have more corporate facilities.

Ditto the commercial side, probably the most disappointing of these figures. OK, the economic crisis doesn’t help things, and one can justifiably expect next year to see a significant improvement in it with the FAC run and the exposure from being high up in the BSP. If there’s a priority now, it’s this.

Finally, donations. It’s probably no bad thing they’re dropping, because it means we rely less and less on people’s goodwill. And of course makes it easier to motivate people to give when we do need them.

Without knowing what the breakdown is of who is donating what, it’s difficult to say whether fundraising from things like the Silent Auction (raising £3000, although this goes through the Dons Trust) and whatever WUP donates are increasingly becoming drops in the ocean, albeit welcome ones.

The DT is still the primary method of donating to the club, although like other donations this will continue to be reliant on the motivation of individuals. This is the first period in the AFCW era that prices for entry, the bar and food have gone up, and the psychological aspect of that can never be underestimated.

Money from the rank-and-file Womble will continue to be a significant source of income for the club for a good while yet, although one suspects the need to generate funds from elsewhere becomes ever greater. Something that could cause great consternation if and when it comes to pass.

Still, we’re in a decent place right now. Many clubs would love to be able to look at their accounts without breaking into cold sweats, which at AFCW we don’t. And for that, we’re eternally grateful. The club is about to face some financial challenges in terms of day-to-day running, and the groundwork for a new (money spinning) stadium, and this could be as good as it gets for a while.

But if we managed to overcome Nathan Elder signing for us…