All but one of Scotland’s league football clubs is free of financial distress according to football finance experts at Begbies Traynor who report annually on key indicators of business distress in the game.
The annual Football Distress Report by corporate recovery expert Begbies Traynor has found that for the third year running, just one out of the 42 clubs that make up the first four divisions of Scottish football is currently showing signs of serious distress.
Attendances in Scotland have fluctuated wildly over recent years as Rangers fought back through the leagues following their collapse in 2012, boosting averages as they went.
With Rangers now back in the Scottish Premiership, attendances in the league have risen by 49% to almost 14,000 on average, the highest figures recorded since the survey began in 2012. The fall of 44% in average gates in the Championship, a 42% drop in League One gates, and a 4% fall in League Two crowds left the overall average up by 4%. Similar rises in gates across the English leagues have failed to restrict distress in clubs south of the border, where four league clubs face an uncertain future.
“Attendances matter more to clubs in Scotland than England as the TV and sponsorship monies simply don’t compare,” said Ken Pattullo who leads Begbies Traynor in Scotland.
“The impact of rising attendances on the finances of clubs here is having a stabilising effect, whereas in England that benefit can be dwarfed by other factors and we have seen a rise from one to four clubs facing problems. The progress of Rangers through the lower leagues has helped smaller clubs to improve their finances too, with average gates temporarily swelling without the pressure to increase the wage bill that comes with promotion,” he explained.
“Falling season ticket prices and marketing initiatives can hide the real number of paying customers, but with more people at games, eating food from concessions and wearing kits and merchandise, football clubs always benefit when more people come to games, even if not every ticket was sold at full price.
“Scottish clubs are managing their finances better and are less likely to face trouble which is great news, but we’re still losing out compared to the English clubs who see higher attendances in League Two than we typically get in the Championship. Football distress levels peaked between 2010 and 2012 as rising wages, falling attendances and falling television deals combined to create pressure on many of the league’s biggest spending clubs.
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