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FootballNewsMiddlesbrough’s latest accounts highlight pressure on Gordon Strachan

Middlesbrough’s latest accounts highlight pressure on Gordon Strachan


By Nick Harris

29 September 2010

Middlesbrough’s latest financial accounts have just been filed at Companies House and highlight the pressure on manager Gordon Strachan to get the club promoted this season.

On page 2 of the accounts, for the year ending 31 December 2009, in the directors’ report under the heading ‘Future outlook’, it is stated (as the scan below shows): “The company is determined that the team can achieve promotion no later than at the end of the second season in the Football League as a result of the restructuring carried out and with the help of the reduced financial benefit still being received from the Premier League.”

While it has always been clear that Boro and their owner, Steve Gibson, have always targeted a return to the Premier League within two seasons (they went down in May 2009), the statement of fact in the club accounts is hard evidence that Strachan is expected to deliver promotion this season at the latest.

As things stand, that looks less likely by the day. Having signed a four-year contract to succeed Gareth Southgate in October last year, Strachan, who had previously won three SPL titles in four seasons at Celtic, took Boro from the play-off zone to finish in 11th place in the Championship.

This season Boro, who started the season as favourites to win the Championship, have won just 10 points from nine games, and after last night’s 3-1 defeat at Derby, lie in 19th place, two points above the relegation zone. “I wouldn’t like you to think we’re not putting the hours in,” Strachan said in a BBC radio interview. “I’ve tried everything. I don’t take it for granted that it will change. We’re doing loads of things, but what we try isn’t working.”

There is no suggestion, yet, that Gibson is going to make an imminent change but the financial report emphasises the importance of getting back into the Premier League while ‘parachute’ payments remain in place.

Boro are rare in that they file calendar year accounts, so the figures just released to Companie House are for the year ending 31 December 2009, not the end of the 2009-10 season.

As such, they reflect the last half season in the Premier League, and the first half season in the Championship. In that period, Boro had turnover of £41.79m (down from £57.88m), and made an operating loss of £12.6m (down from £17.1m).

However, sale of players, post-relegation, brought in £17.4m, leading to loss on ordinary activities before tax of only £333,000 (against a loss of £12.79m the year before). Boro’s wage bill also fell year-on-year, as would be expected, from £34m to £31.2m.

The full financial impact of relegation won’t become apparent in Boro’s accounts until this time next year, when a first full year of Championship football (on Championship income) is reflected.

Central payments from the Premier League (effectively TV money) in 2008-09 totalled £30.945m for finishing 19th. In 2009-10, Boro instead received a ‘parachute payment’ of £12,269,522, and in 2010-11 they will receive an increased parachute payment of £16m.

Under new extended parachute payment schedules introduced from this season, if they don’t get promoted, Boro will also get an £8m parachute payment in 2011-12, and the same in 2012-13. But these payments will only help to lessen the impact of being in the Championship, not mitigate fully against it.

Gibson has also backed Strachan heavily in the transfer market for fees and wages for players – including several from the SPL – who were intended to make strong headway in their division from the start of the season.

The imperative, as laid out in black and white in the accounts, remains to get out of the Championship this season. The pressure continues to mount on Strachan.


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