Friday, 11 January 2013

Albion losing £8million a year at Amex


Brighton lost £8million in their first season at The Amex and are set to lose a similar ammount this year, according to Tony Bloom.

Writing in tomorrow's programme (which is available to download now on the club's website) Bloom and his right hand man Paul Barber lift the lid on the Albion's current financial position amid concerns about the cost of watching football at the £93million stadium.

Fans have questioned the club's pricing of individual matches and reacted badly to some of recent decisions made by Barber.

However, Bloom, who has bank-rolled the club since taking over from Dick Knight, says every ticket, shirt, pie or programme sold is vital if the club are going to continue to compete at this level.

Bloom says, "Last year we lost around £8 million and in the current year, notwithstanding our record crowds, we forecast a similar sized loss. This unfortunately is today’s reality of life in the Championship, especially for those teams pushing hard for success on the pitch.

"In spite of these massive losses we are actually within the current Financial Fair Play (FFP) parameters. This reflects the phased launch of the FFP rules for Championship clubs, so as the rules tighten each year we will progressively have to bring our budgets more into balance in order to meet the sliding FFP targets.

"We need to keep our cost base as low as possible.

"We need to continue to listen to you, our fans, and we will always try to meet, or exceed, your expectations.

"Nobody wants prices to go up, but we have to be realistic. This will happen over
time, and we will aim to keep increases manageable – and we will do everything we can to make things easy, such as the interest-free direct debit scheme, which spreads the cost of a season ticket over 12 months.

"Our intention is to give Gus additional money to attract more quality players. As supporters of the club you can help us by continuing to buy tickets, food and drink, or host a party or meeting on nonmatchdays...the simple equation is the more profit we generate in this way, the more funds it will give the manager to invest in the playing side.

"All this really adds up and helps us enormously."

He added that the hope for the season remained a top siz finish, while Barber - who has recently become something of a hate figure among Albion fans, also uses tomorrow's programme to talk about the need to meet FFP guidelines.

And, perhaps surprisingly, he reiterates his belief that fans should be seen as customers.

He says, "Football fans hate business speak. I know that. And I know why. What matters to fans is the team, our players, how we're playing, where we are in the league, and how far we can progress in the cups. And rightly so.

"However, for the first time, FFP means that there now has to be a more direct and formal link between the business side of a football club and the playing side. And inevitably our fans sit between the two.

"For the business side of the club, it is essential we treat our fans as customers (yes, I've seen the banner and heard the rhetoric!)while, for the football side, of course our fans are supporters.

"Supporters of the team. Customers of the club. Businesses – and, yes, we are one – have customers.

"Successful businesses seek new customers and build their revenues. Successful businesses also become as efficient as possible and reduce their costs wherever
they can."

One area where the club will no doubt be hoping for additional income is the area of sponsorship, with the Albion's existing deals coming to an end before next season.

During his time at Spurs, Barber was instrumental in securing the club's then record shirt sponsorship deal.

A similar result at The Amex would certainly be welcome.

- Paul Barber and the club's press officer will appear on the Albion Roar radio show tomorrow. Visit www.albionroar.co.uk for more details. There are also four pages on FFP in tomorrow's official match programme. This is available to download now at www.seagulls.co.uk as well as being on sale at the game as usual.

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