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Bums On Seats Part 2

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 19/02/2001

Money speaks loudest in the modern game. And what is the oddest part to me is that the perception of money culminates in contrasting attitudes towards each football club.

For example, if your are an investor looking to advertise your product or own a football club as a tax loss. You may compare, as part of your deliberations the finances of Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City. The North bank side, on paper, has far more potential. How can Sheffield Wednesday be reportedly £16M in debt (and rising) and yet still be allowed to continue to exist, whereas Hull city with modest debts of £2M are in the hands of administrators and facing a winding up order?

On their current form it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that they could both be playing each other next season. And yet, it's unlikely that the Owls' bankers will get cold feet with the club still considered a lesser risk than Hull City. I sure hope the Tigers' problems are resolved, not just for their fans but for fans around the country with clubs shouldering equally precarious financial situations. A folding pack of cards comes to mind.

The answer perhaps lies in the average attendance of each club. The higher the average attendance, the bigger the debt, the larger the wage bill but a lower risk is perceived. Therefore the creditors are more patient and there is a greater potential for investment.

So for Town to move up the economic ladder, it's bums on seats we need. TV money should be the icing on the cake! And bigger sponsorship deals will follow as a matter of course. But no club can continue to live beyond its means. Grimsby Town, Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday et al must all get back onto an even keel if they are to survive in the long term.

The print is fading fast on the special 'get out of jail' clause where a football club receives the occasional big cash injection from a transfer fee and the books are balanced. The impending end of the transfer market in its current form will put much more emphasis on simple domestic finances. Expenditure will not be allowed to be substantially different to revenue, as the avenue of selling a playing 'asset' will have been fundamentally removed. For Grimsby Town the new stadium promises a new era, improved financial stability and better crowds.

Are we to have a full house for the first game in the new stadium? Probably, but then again we are not planning in fitting the entire seating capacity in the first phase! But by our standards 12,000 will still be a lot to fill!

Do we really deserve what we have?

Todd Bontoft

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