By David Owen
March 14 – The sale of star defender Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool looks to have been the main factor keeping Southampton in the black in the year to end-June 2018, after a season in which the south coast club, which has supplied so many influential players to the Merseysiders in recent times, only narrowly escaped relegation.
The ‘Rolls Royce’ central defender, a contender for the Premier League’s 2018-19 player of the year award, is not actually mentioned in the newly-published strategic report. However, the Saints made a £68.9 million profit on player sales during the year and Van Dijk’s reported £75 million move came during the January 2018 winter transfer window.
The player sales profit transformed a £35.2 million operating loss into a £33.4 million pre-tax profit, a modest deterioration from the previous year’s £41.8 million.
The slump in on-field performance took its toll on the now Chinese-controlled club’s turnover, which dropped from £178.3 million to £148.4 million. The bulk of this – £117 million – was from broadcasting, with matchday proceeds tumbling from £20.9 million to £16.7 million and commercial revenue more or less flat at just over £13 million.
The net cash position improved further from £17 million to £32.7 million.
While overall staff costs edged up to almost £110 million, and the wage:turnover ratio advanced from 61% to 74%, player remuneration was said to have fallen from £86.6 million to £85.2 million.
With the average number of directors serving rising from two to five, directors’ emoluments more than doubled to £2.13 million. The highest-paid director received £675,000, up from £545,000. The highest-paid director at St Mary’s Football Group Limited, the immediate parent company, was said to have received £636,000, up from £606,000.
Since August 2017, Southampton have been owned by Lander Sports (UK), bringing the club under the control of Jisheng Gao, a Chinese property magnate.
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