Losses soar at Brighton’s Seagulls as pandemic takes £25m hit

By David Owen

January 27 – Losses have widened at Brighton and Hove Albion, the progressive south-coast Premier League club, after a season described by chairman Tony Bloom as “one of the most challenging in our club’s history”.

At the pre-tax level, the loss for the year to 30 June 2020 tripled from the prior 12 months to £67.2 million. Bloom explained that – as with so many other professional sports businesses – “the budgeted losses were significantly increased by the unexpected drop in turnover due to covid”.

The club said the net overall impact of the pandemic on 2019-20 results was to “increase the net loss by approximately £25.3 million”.

Turnover declined by more than £15 million to £132.9 million. The downturn would have been greater but for £20 million of “other income” – up from £6.5 million in 2018-19. The club attributed this to increased income from players on loan as well as a £9.4 million of revenue recognised from its New Monks Farm development project. This also gave rise to attributable costs of sales of £8.8 million, however. The club said that construction work at the site for a housing and retail development had begun, while “the sale of land relating to phase one of the residential development has completed”.

By the year-end, the amount owed by the Seagulls to Bloom had risen by a further £30 million-plus to a highly significant £303.7 million, equivalent to more than twice 2019-20 turnover. These loans are said to be interest-free, unsecured and repayable on demand.

Staff costs held relatively steady at £103.2 million, up from £101.6 million. Some of the difference can be explained by a more than £500,000 increase, from £1.5 million to £2.02 million in remuneration of the highest-paid director. This was said to include a “one-off loyalty bonus” as well as “benefits related to retention and personal performance”.

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