By David Owen
November 24 – Tottenham Hotspur’s reign at the top of the Premier League profits table is over, with chairman Daniel Levy warning that a further £150 million of revenue could be lost irrecoverably in the present financial year if the club’s shiny new stadium remains closed to fans.
The North London club, which remains top of the real Premier League table on goal difference, has unveiled a pre-tax loss of £67.7 million for the year to end-June.
This compares with a profit of £87.4 million – more than twice as much as any other Premier League outfit – a year earlier. At this level, the year-on-year negative swing is therefore well over £150 million.
The deterioration was due partly to lost revenue, which declined by more than £58 million, or 12.7%, from £460.7 million to £402.4 million.
Operating expenses before football trading were, meanwhile, sharply up, from £312.8 million to £358.1 million, “driven by a full year of depreciation of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium of £71 million”.
Player sales produced a profit of £15.4 million, with Christian Eriksen and Kieran Trippier the chief departures.
Levy’s summary of the situation was unshrinking, with the chairman acknowledging that the Covid pandemic “could not have come at a worse time, having just completed a £1.2 billion stadium build which is financed by club resources and long-term debt”.
He went on: “The 2020-21 season has so far seen no fans at games and this is compounded by a loss of third party events such as NFL, concerts, the closure of stores and visitor attractions.
“Our estimate for the current financial year of the potential loss of revenue, should the stadium remain closed to fans, is in excess of £150 million. Clearly this would be an irrecoverable loss of income.”
The UK Parliament looks set to clear the way for a maximum of 4,000 fans to attend outdoor sports events in the lowest-risk Covid areas after December 2. It is not yet clear which areas will be included in the low-risk category.
In June, Spurs were the first football club to tap the UK Government coronavirus support measure known as the Covid Corporate Financing Facility, with a wholly-owned subsidiary, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Limited, issuing £175 million of commercial paper.
The new figures put the club’s year-end net debt at a towering £604.6 million – about £130 million more than Manchester United at the same date. Not surprisingly, net interest rose sharply from £25.2 million in 2018-19 to £43.2 million. The club said, though, that it had refinanced its debt portfolio, “extending it to an average maturity of 23 years and bringing the weighted average interest rate down to 2.67%”.
As with Manchester United, the picture on individual revenue streams was mixed. In Tottenham’s case, both match-day and commercial income continued in the right direction, in spite of Covid. The former was up just under 16% at £94.5 million; the latter not far off 20% at £161.5 million.
As with United, the broadcasting hit was heavy, however – down an eye-watering 40% to £146.4 million. A big part of the deterioration was attributable to reduced Champions League prize money. This dropped from £94 million to £51.2 million after the club’s run to the final in 2018-19. Premier League revenues dropped from £149.9 million to £95.2 million, with several games being pushed into the 2020-21 financial year.
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