A message from the Board of Ayr United Football and Athletic Club
There has been significant speculation over the financial performance of Ayr United over the course of season 2018/19 and the position of the club going into season 2019/20. As a board of directors, we wish to offer some clarity on these matters without breaching commercial confidentiality or providing information to the benefit of our competitors.
Firstly, the club is ambitious and wishes to compete at the highest level we can in the SPFL. We believe we have shown that with the decision to return to full-time status in the league title winning season 2017/18. We have had a very successful season past where the team was challenging at the top of the table throughput the course of the season and reached the promotion play-offs.
However, that ambition must be tempered by the legal requirement we have as directors to ensure that the club can function as a going concern. Above all else, we must be able to pay our staff’s wages, suppliers and other obligations and this will always determine the level of budget we are able to provide across all areas of the club.
The audited accounts have not yet been produced for season 2018/19 so any points raised in this statement are based on estimates.
- 38 full-time staff across all departments
- Over 80 people earn all or part of their income working for Ayr United
- No directors are paid anything from the club
- We estimate that just under 70% of our turnover goes on wages including taxes and pension contributions
- A successful season like that just past, means that significant bonus payments are paid, funded by that success.
In the region of £200k on exceptional items including:
- Stadium fabric repairs
- Project Brave to the AUFA
- Legal fees
- Plant and equipment (e.g. new tractor)
- Kit van and fit out
- Payment of debts (not directors’ loans)
- Medical support extended and medical procedures through the season
Players signed after the start of the season or contracts extended beyond 6 months
As the season progressed, we released additional funds to strengthen the playing squad beyond the initial budget. This was provided based on the team’s success in the League Cup and on encouraging home attendances in the first half of the season.
Income for the past season
For clarity, income and profit are different numbers, for example if we had an income of £50,000 from the shop, we would have to pay suppliers for the goods and pay the shop staff’s wages before we know what the profit is. This profit then goes towards the other running cost of the club including players wages and other costs. The same applies to other income streams.
- We had decent season ticket sales and pay at the gate sales in the first half of the season.
- Fixture congestion and midweek matches saw a significant drop off between the two halves of the season in gate receipts.
- Hospitality, retail and commercial were all strong income streams, these were insourced in season 2017/18 and significantly increased our turnover yielding a reasonable profit compared to the income from outsourcing of these functions. This decision saw hospitality and retail income move from around 8% of turnover to around 21% of turnover.
- Prize money from the Championship, League Cup and Scottish Cup were significant income streams.
- The AU500 Fund and AU Development Society contributed significant amounts approaching 6 figures
- In addition to this, individual directors made substantial donations in the past season.
- Significant VAT payments are made on applicable elements of this income.
As with all businesses, we have significant costs to pay in the running of the club over and above the wages and salaries of our staff including:
- Rates & Water
- Vehicle costs
- Stationery, printing & postage
- Bookkeeping & payroll
Competing in the Championship is more expensive than competing in League 1. Our initial estimates suggest that we had an increase in turnover (not profit) of around 24% for season 2018/19 compared to season 2017/18. This was consumed by the increase in wages and running costs and in the exceptional items mentioned above.
Volunteers and Donations
The input from volunteers in working around the ground, offices and shops is an invaluable and intrinsic part of the club and we’re always keen to see more supporters get involved.
The donations and efforts of the members of the AU500 Fund over the past three years have been a game changer for the club’s playing budget and we are very grateful to them and hope that the membership and donations continue to grow.
Similarly, the long-standing contributions from the Ayr United Development Society members (the administrators of the Ayr United Five Star Lottery) have supported the club financially in numerous projects around the club and of course we are also very grateful to them.
The season ahead
For the season ahead, we as a board have budgeted based on a break-even budget without the requirement for support from the directors. As individuals, we have made significant donations over the past few seasons, but this is not something we would include in the initial budget nor can it be relied on every season.
We will always do what we can to maximise the playing budget and we work closely with the manager to provide the strongest playing squad we can afford. In the Championship, we are competing with teams with a range of turnovers, some of whom will have lower and others will have perhaps two or three times our turnover.
We hope, as we are sure all our supporters do that, we can continue to increase our turnover in the coming years through increasing attendances which can drive increases in the playing budget. That will take time, but we remain optimistic that the club can continue to grow.
We would like to thank all our supporters, volunteers, sponsors and everyone else who has backed us over the last season.