Stoke potter along nicely with doubling of profit to £4.9m

By David Owen

November 23 – Stoke City, the Midlands club enjoying a 10th consecutive season in the Premier League, have revealed an uptick in profits, as a jump in turnover attributable to the league’s latest TV deal was not passed on in higher wage costs.

Pre-tax profit for the year to 31 May 2017 more than doubled to £4.9 million from £2.1 million the previous year. This came on turnover of £136 million, up from £104.2 million.

The lion’s share of this turnover figure – £108.7 million – came from television and media. Gate receipts were a comparatively insignificant £7.2 million, down from £8.4 million.

While higher amortisation costs inflated operating expenses, the club kept a firm grip on wages, which climbed only from £82.3m to £84.9 million. This in turn resulted in a significant downturn in the widely-watched staff costs: turnover ratio, which decreased markedly from 79% to 62%

Relative pay restraint was a feature, seemingly, in the board room as well as the changing room: remuneration of the highest-paid director appears to have fallen to £806,000 from £934,000. Other directors were said to be paid by Hillside (Shared Services) Limited and bet365 Group Limited, the Potters’ ultimate parent company.

The club’s indebtedness to group undertakings rose from £59.5 million to £75.7 million. According to the accounts, no interest was charged. The company was “deemed to be a going concern due to the ongoing support of Stoke City Holdings Limited and its ultimate parent company, bet365 Group”.

Spending on players was put at £35.9m during the year, down from over £50m in 2015-16, with arrivals including Joe Allen and Saido Berahino.

Under manager Mark Hughes, the club has continued to be busy in the transfer market since May, with proceeds from the disposal of players such as Marko Arnautović narrowly outstripping spending by £30 million to £28.1 million. Since the net book value of the sold players at year-end was only £5.7 million, it looks like player trading should make a significant positive contribution to 2017-18 profits.

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