Hearts owner Ann Budge admits last financial year has been ‘challenging’

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Hearts owner Ann Budge admits the last financial year has been a challenging one, despite posting a £2.3 million profit.

The club’s annual results to June 30 make for good reading as the Gorgie outfit go from strength to strength off the pitch following the devastating plunge into administration in 2013.

Despite spending £6.9 million on the new main stand, which was opened for the first time for Sunday’s draw with Partick Thistle, Hearts still managed to remain in the black with the help of a £2.5 million donation from an unnamed benefactor.

During last season, the club also had to build new office space and changing rooms under the Wheatfield stand in preparation for the old main stand being demolished.

Budge cites this work as the main reason for a £1.1 million rise in operating costs to £5.4 million, and the club’s majority shareholder insists the 12 month period was anything but normal.

In her strategic report in the accounts, she said: “Financial Year 2016/17 was year 2 of our 3 year plan to redevelop Tynecastle stadium. This was always going to be a challenging year, with a number of milestones to be achieved but we met these challenges head on and delivered against most of our main objectives.”

Budge went on to say: “All of the above meant that this year was a very e-typical year. However, despite the disruption to our normal business, we were able to continue to grow our revenues across all areas of the club, with turnover increasing by £1.3 million to £11.3 million.

“This was largely due to the continued support of our fans, over 13,700 of whom bought season tickets.”

Cathro

The accounts also show a £364,000 rise in staff costs, which take into account an increase in both full and part-time workers at the club.

January saw much change on the pitch as then manager Ian Cathro oversaw the arrival of nine new players.

However, Budge, who presided over the sacking of Cathro in August, insists the £5.9 million spent on staff during that period was within their own target.

She added: “As is not uncommon in such situations, this resulted in a slightly higher than anticipated turnover of players in the January transfer window.

“However, the relation of player costs to turnover is one of our key performance indicators and we were careful to remain within our accepted levels.”

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