Top-flight arrival sees Brighton soar into the black with £50m turnaround

By David Owen

December 13 – Brighton and Hove Albion, the south-coast club who have adapted well to life in the Premier League since their promotion in 2017, have announced a profit for the first time in their recent history.

The club, known as the Seagulls, posted a pre-tax profit of £12.1 million, a £50 million improvement on the prior year’s £38.9 million loss.

The turnaround chiefly reflected a 14-fold increase, from £7.7 million to £110.3 million, in broadcast revenue, itself indicative of how the game’s finances in the main West European markets have become hopelessly skewed in favour of the elite.

With average attendances climbing above the 30,000-mark, matchday income increased from £14.8 million to £18.5 million. The club, which is developing a reputation for being relatively soundly managed, kept costs under reasonable control in light of its promotion. Staff costs came in at £77.6 million, rather less than double the 2016-17 figure of £40.4 million.

Remuneration received by the highest-paid director rose from £1.2m to £1.4m. The club said that chief executive Paul Barber, having turned down opportunities to move to “bigger clubs”, was taking on the additional role of deputy chairman. It has also hired the highly-regarded Dan Ashworth as its first-ever technical director.

The accounts make clear the extent of the club’s dependence on chairman Tony Bloom. As at the June 30 year-end, the amount owed to Bloom had risen well beyond the £200 million mark – to £222.7 million versus £190.7 million a year earlier. These loans are interest-free, unsecured and repayable on demand.

The accounts also serve notice of a £1.9 million impairment provision linked to a failure to obtain planning permission for a hotel. The club said the provision was for “pre-structural development works on land at the stadium previously identified as a hotel site but as planning permission was not granted will now be considered for alternative uses”.

The club said it was “hopeful” of beginning construction work next year on a housing and retail development at New Monks Farm, adjoining its training ground.

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