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How It Happened

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 20/01/2005

GRIMSBY'S descent into insolvency didn't happen overnight, or even in the course of one year. Instead it was triggered by the overnight collapse of ITV Digital in 2002, and by the club's commitment to honour highly lucrative contracts with players negotiated prior to that time.

To compound the problem, the club also suffered two successive relegations, which further eroded their revenue, in the seasons immediately following the collapse. The club's income consequently nose-dived: Town's turnover in 2005 will be just one third of what it was in 2002.

The lost revenue is almost all TV money: Grimsby's income from gate revenue has stayed comparatively flat at around £1m per annum over the last five years. NTL's financial woes and the consequent fallout of a lucrative contract for subsidiary FLPTV to supply the official web site, and a promised £300K loan from the Football Trust which was reneged on were also contributing factors.

The irony is that with all the pre-ITV Digital contracts now finished, the club have returned to a position where their income and outgoings are of a comparable magnitude. Unfortunately the tax man and an unpaid bill of £720K stand in the way of an otherwise brighter future....

5 years surrounding the ITV Digital collapse
May-00Wages for company - £2.96 million
May-00Company Turnover - £2.76 million
May-00Gate income for company - £1.24 million
May-00FL television & broadcasting income for company £0.86m
May-00Overall financial support - £500k
May-00Continue as established Football League Division 1 team
Jul-00Signed up ITV Digital deal - 3 years - worth £315 million to Football League clubs
Jul-00Signed up NTL Internet deal (worth £65 million to Football League clubs)
Aug-00Received £150,000 rights fee advance from NTL/FLPTV partnership
Sep-00Received £1.1 million advance on ITV Digital deal through Football League
Jan-01Received £150,000 rights fee advance from NTL/FLPTV partnership
May-01Wages for company - £4.35 million
May-01Company turnover - £3.07 million
May-01Gate income for company - £1.08 million
May-01FL television & broadcasting income for company £ 0.91m
May-01Overall financial support - £600k
May-01Continue as established Football League division 1 team
Jul-01John Fenty & Mike Rouse co-opted to board of directors
Sep-01Received £1.97 million, first yearly payment of 3 year ITV Digital deal
Feb-02Hugely successful 'Up The Mariners' campaign undertaken by GTFC / Grimsby Telegraph
Apr-02ITV Digital collapses before end of first season
Apr-02NTL file for chapter 11 bankruptcy in USA, forcing FLPTV to renegotiate Football League deal
May-02Wages for company - £4.15 million
May-02Company turnover - £6.36 million
May-02Gate income for company £1.4 million
May-02FL television & broadcasting income for company £ 3.83 million
May-02Overall financial support - £1.15 million
May-02Continue as established Football League division 1 team
Jul-02Signed new deal with BSkyB worth £95 million over 4 years
Nov-02Michael Chapman joins board
Dec-02FT/FL 'rescue' received non repayable grant from FL / FT of £332,000 (1st Division status)
Dec-02Promise of FL / Football Trust 'loan' of £333,333
Jan-03John Elsom joins board
May-03Wages for company - £3.09 million
May-03Company turnover - £3.84 million
May-03Gate income for company £1.19 million
May-03FL television & broadcasting income for company £1.13 million
May-03Overall financial support - £1.25 million
May-03Relegated to Football League Division 2
Jun-03Released player of the year Danny Coyne (Welsh international keeper) for free to Leicester saving wages £250,000 p/a
Aug-03FT/FL 'rescue' received non repayable grant from FL / FT of £50,000 (2nd Division status)
Dec-03Collapse of proposed £333,333 FL / FT loan due to legal issues raised by trustees of Football Trust.
Jan-04Sold midfielder Alan Pouton to Gillingham for £25k saving wages circa £60,000
Feb-04Sold top goal scorer Michael Boulding to Barnsley for £50k saving wages circa £60,000
May-04Wages for company - £2.26 million
May-04Company turnover - £2.5 million
May-04Gate income for company £1.05 million
May-04FL television & broadcasting income for company £ 0.86m
May-04Overall financial support - £2.05 million
May-04Directors meet Inland Revenue to negotiate settlement
May-04Inland Revenue grant moratorium in order for club to explore repayment plan
May-04Relegated to Football League Division 3
Jun-04Players with 'ITV Digital' enhanced contracts expire
Sep-04Michael Rouse leaves board
May-05Forecast wages for company - £1.47 million
May-05Forecast company turnover - £2.17 million
May-05Forecast gate income for company £0.95 million
May-05FL television & broadcasting income for company £ 0.42 million

Thanks to GTFC for providing the data for this article.

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