Bristol Rovers reveal latest losses
Bristol Rovers made operating losses of almost £2 million last season, the club's annual report reveals.
Overall club losses have risen to more than £3.4 million – although that figure includes costs of £2.1 million built up in recent years for the proposed redevelopment of the Memorial Stadium.
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Those costs are now being written off with the scheme having been shelved in favour of plans for a new 21,700-capacity ground adjacent to the UWE complex in Frenchay.
Reflecting on what was a bad year for the club, chairman Nick Higgs says in his annual report: "This last season has been one of great disappointment on the pitch. We suffered our second relegation to League Two under difficult circumstances.
"As a board we reacted by changing the management team three times and, despite the valiant attempts of Stuart Campbell in his caretaker role, we were unsuccessful in halting the slump.
"This relegation was hard to take. As a board, we invested heavily in terms of wage costs in the players and were badly let down by their lack of fight and resolve in many cases.
"These costs have led to an underlying net operating loss for the year of £1,939,141.
"Relegation to League Two impacts on the club with reduced revenues from the Football League, along with the requirements to introduce wage-capping as agreed by all League Two clubs.
"This has resulted in a much-changed squad for the new season as we adjust our cloth accordingly."
Rovers this week appointed their fourth manager in just over 13 months with Mark McGhee succeeding Paul Buckle, who was sacked by the club early this month after a disastrous run of results which plunged them into another relegation battle.
"I believe that the calibre of this long-term appointment shows our ambitions which, allied to new stadium, show where the board wants to take this club," adds Higgs.
"The squad has not gelled as we would have expected, but we hope the changes that we will be making in January will allow us to finish the season in a respectable position, all set up for a promotion challenge next season."
Higgs says that the proposed UWE Stadium – which is expected to cost around £40 million – is vital for the long-term future of the club. Rovers hope it will be in use in 2014.
"These plans allow the club to have a sustainable future in a 21st Century facility, something we have lacked for far too long," says Higgs.
"The next six months as we move through the planning process are vital to moving this project forward.
"The result of this new project is that we have to write off our investment in the previous stalled project at our existing site to the value of £2,189,689, which has been financed by the directors. Due to the above, the overall loss for the company has climbed to £3.4 million, but in line with our objectives set last year, the amount of external debt held by the club has reduced by a further £280,316.
"The board is committed to the security of the club and continues to support it by financing the losses with loans until we reach the stability a new stadium will bring."
The full scale of the continuing investment directors have been making to keep the club going is also outlined in the report, which covers the year ending in June 2011.
Overall, loans from directors totalled £3.2 million compared with £1.94 million in 2010.
The accounts – which will be presented to shareholders at the club's annual meeting at the Memorial Stadium on Monday, February 13 – also show that the club's wage bill increased slightly to £3.70 million last year, from £3.65 million in 2010.
Meanwhile, new boss McGhee is looking forward to his first game in charge at Cheltenham today.
He is not expecting to make any major changes, although he may tinker with the side's formation.
McGhee said: "I don't think I realistically have a lot of options; the boys who were fit last Saturday, will be the ones who are fit this Saturday.
"Matt Gill came back to training and he has played an hour, but I don't think he is ready to start, so he would be an addition who would probably come on to the bench."
The manager believes that he can build on the spirit shown by his side against Crawley last weekend.
He said: "I saw a team on Saturday that looked spirited and determined.
"It wasn't exactly the best game in the world, but there wasn't a lot wrong in that respect, so that gives you a chance.
"If that is missing, you are struggling."