Begbies Traynor Football Distress Survey

There are promising signs of financial improvement within football, according to the sport’s annual financial fitness test. See full Red Flag Alert report.
Business Health Statistics

| March 30th 2016

More News by Gerald Krasner

Date Published: 30th March 2016

Begbies Traynor Football Distress Survey

The trickle-down effect of football TV money and good housekeeping forced by the Football League and HMRC has all but eliminated business distress in English football.

Of the 72 teams in the top four divisions of the English football league, only two lower division clubs now show any signs of distress, representing just 3% of clubs. 

This is a dramatic 85% reduction from a total of 18% of all clubs that were in financial distress in March 2012, when the data was first analysed by corporate recovery experts Begbies Traynor.

“To say that we have seen the end of football clubs going under is a step too far, as relegation impacts clubs harder than ever before, but it’s certainly less likely now,” said football finance expert Gerald Krasner, a partner at Begbies Traynor.

“The football industry has never been fitter, and while many might think that it is down to the influx of big money foreign club owners, it is as much to do with the Football Fair Play rules and the HMRC stance on arrears, which have forced good housekeeping,” added Mr Krasner, who is also a former director of Leeds United Football Club. 

In March 2012 a total of 13 English clubs faced significant financial distress, and several, including Portsmouth, Port Vale and Coventry City, have since entered administration as out of control wage costs, poor management and falling attendances took their toll.

The average gates at English clubs have remained largely static, with just a 1% rise in the last five years, but attendances north of the border have grown by 9% in the same time period, largely attributed to the growth of Rangers’ average gates.

Since the introduction of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules in England and Wales in 2012, clubs have increasingly been forced to live within their means, and limit losses that had swollen with billionaire owners supporting huge player wage bills and gambling on promotion to the super lucrative Premier League.

In the last 18 months HMRC, typically the single largest trade creditor in football club failures, has tightened its approach to late payments ensuring that arrears of millions of pounds that were accrued by clubs such as Glasgow Rangers and Portsmouth are no longer able to build up and threaten clubs’ long-term stability.

The ownership of clubs, once characterised by benefactor and fan owners such as Blackburn Rovers’ former chairman Jack Walker, has shifted dramatically to overseas individuals and investment groups as the English Leagues have gained profile globally in the last decade.

“The amount of TV money has grown, along with the popularity of our leagues overseas, but that brings its own downside.  The fiscal cliff that faces newly relegated clubs is huge and growing, even with the so-called ‘parachute money’, and this is probably the biggest challenge to football club finances now,” said Mr Krasner.

“It is however sad that as football distress has been reduced to a trickle, the UK ownership of our clubs has dwindled to just a handful as more and more famous clubs were snapped up by overseas investors during the toughest times,” he added.

More information and the full report can be found at Begbies Traynor Football Distress Survey (England) March 2016.

About the author

Gerald Krasner


Meet our Team of Experts

Gerald qualified in 1971 as an ACA with Peat Marwick Mitchell and subsequently joined Bartfields Chartered Accountants where he began to specialise in Insolvency. He was one of the first licence holders in 1986 when he specialised in CVAs before they became more popular. Gerald has worked on numerous successful cases including Krasner v Dennison, for which he won in the Court Of Appeal and as a consequence changed the treatment of a bankrupts' pensions.

In 2004 he became chairman and part owner of Leeds United AFC which had debts of circa £103 million. These were reduced to £24 million before the club was sold the following year. In 2007 he sold the insolvency division of Bartfields to Begbies Traynor and became a partner at the firm.

Gerald has lectured both nationally and internationally to fellow insolvency practitioners and other professionals, and has also been involved in committees for both R3 and Insol.

108 Regional UK Offices

Find your local Begbies Traynor office and speak to an adviser today.

Find your Local Office
0800 063 9221

Call our Confidential Advice Line. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Call us now...
Request a Meeting

We invite you to come and discuss your enquiry with us at your convenience.

Request a meeting...
0800 464 0871

Call our Confidential Advice Line. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Call us now...
Request a Meeting

We invite you to come and discuss your enquiry with us at your convenience.

Request a meeting...
0161 837 1700

Call our Confidential Advice Line. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Call us now...
Request a Meeting

We invite you to come and discuss your enquiry with us at your convenience.

Request a meeting...
Begbies Traynor Group plc, announces that it has completed the acquisition of CVR Global LLP
CVR is a leading independent firm of insolvency practitioners, forensic accountants and experts in other related complementary disciplines.
Read More →
Coronavirus pushes financially distressed companies over the half-million mark
Number of businesses in significant distress stands at 509,000 – the highest number measured by the Red Flag Alert research
Read More →
BTG Advisory accelerates growth with appointment of four new partners to its London office
BTG Advisory, the boutique advisory arm of Begbies Traynor Group announces the appointment of four new partners to its Canary Wharf office
Read More →
Eighty jobs saved with £1m sale of engineering business
South Yorkshire company Newburgh Precision rescued through administration
Sale enables 75-year-old business to continue trading
Read More →
Join thousands of professionals by signing up for our updates
Analysis and Opinion from our Partners
Top Industry News
Register Now →

Advice you can trust

We are accredited by the following industry leading organisations

Insolvency Practitioners Association Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales R3: Association of Business Recovery Professionals ICAEW Business Advice Service Turnaround Management Association ICAS | The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

Contact the Begbies Traynor team

or Find your Nearest Office

Here at Begbies Traynor Group we take your privacy seriously and will only use your personal information to contact you with regards to your enquiry. We will not use your information for marketing purposes. See PRIVACY POLICY


This site uses cookies to monitor site performance and provide a more responsive and personalised experience. You must agree to our use of certain cookies. For more information on how we use and manage cookies please read our PRIVACY POLICY