BY DARREN JOHNSTONE @CCP_Sport
Hearts have announced a £681,000 operating loss for the financial year ending June 2015, but have still managed to reduce their debt by over £1.5 million.
The club released their accounts to shareholders yesterday and they make for encouraging reading, despite the Gorgie outfit posting a deficit for the period.
The financial report coincides with chair Ann Budge’s first year at the helm after the IT guru and fans group the Foundation of Hearts (FoH) joined forces to take the club out of administration last June.
Despite playing in the Championship, turnover was up £500,000 to £7 million.
The substantial £900,000 increase in staff costs was anticipated after then manager Gary Locke was left with a skeleton squad made up mainly of youngsters during the 2013/14 campaign.
A total of £3.8 million was spent on staff salaries during the year.
Other operating charges amount to £3.6 million, with net cash inflow totalling £1.97 million, including £1.47 million received from the FoH.
The club’s net debt, as of June 2015, stands at £1.6 million (down from £3.15) although that figure takes into account loans made by Ann Budge and the FoH. Hearts also has £3.52 million ‘at bank and in hand’.
The Foundation of Hearts, backed by over 8,000 fans making monthly donations, are on course to take over the running of the club by May 2019 after they pay back Budge the £2.5 million that she put forward to take the Edinburgh outfit out of administration.
In her strategic report included within the accounts, Budge said: “The 2014/15 playing season was a successful one for Heart of Midlothian football club, with the winning of the Championship league by a substantial margin of 21 points, thus ensuring the club’s place in the Premiership for 2015/16.
“Turnover increased by £0.47m to £7m, largely due to an increase in ticket income and commercial activity resulting from the on-pitch success.
“Staff costs rose by £0.9m as a result of an exercise to rebuild both the player and non-player base, with average full-time employee numbers increasing from 104 to 122 during the year.
“Other operating charges rose to £3.6m from £2.5m in the prior year, largely as a result of increased spend on key infrastructure repairs in the year and an increase in professional fees incurred in resolving the inherited 2012 share issue.
“The net cash inflow during the year of £1.97m was assisted by the ground-breaking new partnership with Save the Children.
“In addition, a working capital contribution of £1.47m was received from Foundation of Hearts Ltd.
“These significant cash inflows, together with increased cash received through season ticket sales, provide critical financial support for the continuation of the club’s impressive revival, with the monies helping to fund the work both on and off the pitch.
“The fixed costs of the business which are mainly football related payroll costs and the upkeep of the stadium are maintained with the constraints of the turnover figure.
“The company’s prudent budget and financial foundations allow us to confirm that we continue to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play criteria.”
The financial report has been released ahead of the club’s 109th Annual General Meeting at Tynecastle on December 3.