'Unaffordable' Brighton's billionaire chairman Tony Bloom bracing himself for another financial hit

Brighton and Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom believes the crisis caused by the coronavirus shutdown should lead to significant change in the way football operates.

With several clubs at all levels struggling to cope financially since play was suspended, Bloom admitted it's raised serious questions over the sustainability of a model which sees huge percentages of club revenues spent on player wages.

"After this is resolved - and hopefully that doesn't take too long - I do think football will come together because right now lots of clubs are at risk of going bust," Bloom said speaking via conference call on Thursday.

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"We were all devastated when Bury went because we know how key clubs are to their communities and it's a big concern going forward that more clubs in this country and in others will fold.

Brighton and Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom is predicting operating losses for this season

"It does need to be looked at at all levels. It really isn't sustainable and it needs something like this crisis to get across some significant change."

Albion’s 2019 finances showed wage costs rose to £102m and there was a swing from £11.3m profit in 2017/18 to a £21.2m loss in 2018/19.

The change was attributed to an increase in player wages, player transfer fees and the change of management team at the end of last season.

Brighton received £114m from broadcast revenue, matchday income totalled £19m and commercial revenue brought in £10m.

Chairman Tony Bloom is worth an estimated 1.2bn and has invested more than 300m into his hometown club

Their wage to revenue ratio was 71 per cent, which is in fact a fairly healthy figure for a Premier League club.

But wages have continued to grow and the suspension of the league has left many clubs in a very precarious position.

Match day income has stopped and quite how TV revenue will be impacted remains unclear. The club were already predicting operating losses this season and the coronavirus pandemic will add significantly to that.

"In an ideal world it (player wages) would be less but as we all know it's difficult for football clubs to be profitable," added Bloom, who has an estimated net worth of £1.2bn and has already invested more than £350m into his hometown club.

Tony Bloom and his wife Linda at the Amex stadium

"Outside of some Premier League clubs, and perhaps the odd club in the lower leagues - particularly if they sell a player - most clubs do make losses. We are in a very difficult situation. It is such a competitive market place and in the Premier League the salaries are very high.

"We have got one of the lowest player salaries and it is still a very high number. In an ideal world it would be lower and it would make situations like this easier. It would make being profitable and sustainable easier for all clubs."

One common suggestion is a player salary cap. Bloom is open to the idea but believes implementing it would be hugely complex.

"If it is going to work it needs to be worldwide - certainly Europewide. I can see big difficulties with that. But if it is workable and leagues around Europe, if not the world, can come to an agreement - I'm sure there will be legal issues - but something does need to change.

"Otherwise player salaries will increase far too much and it becomes unaffordable. Clubs are under pressure to be competitive, there is pressure from their fanbase, pressure in terms of not being relegated for financial reasons.

"There is all sorts of pressure. It's very difficult on the one hand to be competitive and to be seen to be doing right by their club and on the other hand, we have seen clubs spend far too much money and put the club’s long-term viability on the line.

"Something like that (salary cap) will be talked about. I see it being very difficult to come to fruition though."

As yet Albion have not used the government job retention scheme but furloughing staff has not been ruled-out. Bournemouth, Tottenham and Liverpool reversed their decisions to use the tax-payer funded scheme, while Newcastle and Norwich received heavy criticism.

Brighton's top three earners from the non-playing staff, chief executive Paul Barber, technical director Dan Ashworth and head coach Graham Potter, all took pay cuts but the players remain on full pay.

The club continue discussions with captain Lewis Dunk and striker Glenn Murray, who are acting as representatives for the first team squad.

Bloom said: "I’d like to pay tribute to Lewis and Glenn who’ve had many, many discussions with Paul and Dan and the rest if the playing squad. It’s a difficult situation for them.

"But I think it’s time for the PFA to step up to the mark and really look at this situation and the long-term implications of not being more open to some of the suggestions.

"Some of these clubs are under huge financial pressure because of player salaries."

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