Norwich left without a parachute – yet escape to the promised land 

By David Owen

November 5 – Norwich City, the chirpy East Anglian club controlled by celebrity chef Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn Jones, racked up a hefty loss while securing their return to the Premier League last season. 

The Canaries reported a pre-tax loss of £39.4 million for the year to end-June 2019. This compared with a £18.5 million profit the previous year.

The figures showed the distorting effect of Premier League parachute payments, with turnover of £33.7 million standing at not much more than half the £61.7 million recorded in 2017-18. The club said that 2018-19 was the first season in eight that it had not received any such parachute payments. Prior to 2019-20, it last featured in the English top flight in 2015-16, Leicester City’s title-winning season.

Within the latest turnover figure, gate receipts held relatively steady at £9.7 million, while both commercial and catering advanced, the former from £7.2 million to £8.5 million. It was under the broadcasting income label that the downturn was registered, this tumbling from £38.5 million to only £9.4 million.

Clearly, it will rebound strongly once again in 2019-20. The club has already served notice, indeed, that it “anticipates a substantial operating profit in the financial year to June 2020”. The operating loss in 2018-19 attained £37.9 million.

Staff costs were held almost completely flat at £54.4 million, versus £54.3 million. There was, however, a near five-fold increase in aggregate emoluments, fees and benefits going to the highest-paid director. These rose from £100,000 in 2017-18 to £472,000 in the latest year.

While transfer dealing was subdued, the club recorded net receipts from player trading of £10.2 million. Player purchase costs amounted to £10.4 million, including instalment payments on previous transfers, plus the acquisitions of new players such as Emiliano Buendia, Moritz Leitner and Philip Heise. Player sale transactions raised £20.6 million, mainly in the form of instalments from the sale of players from previous reporting periods, including James Maddison, Leicester City’s new star.

Notes to the accounts indicate that short-term creditors rose during the latest year, due largely to a £19.8 million bank overdraft. Chief Operating Officer Ben Kensell said that the latest figures demonstrated “the club’s financial resilience”.

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