Crawley Town finances and stadium situation discussed on new podcast

Crawley Town co-owner Preston Johnson and general manager Tom Allman led a fans forum at the club last week.
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A hot topic from the forum was the stadium and the club potentially buying it. But since the forum last Monday, the club’s accounts – published for the period July 1 2022 to June 30 2023 have been a hotter topic, being discussed by worried supporters on social media.

Accounts published on Companies House can be seen here and show the club made losses, but also show owners WAGMI United have currently made an interest free loan of over £5.5M to the club.

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To explain these accounts a bit more, Reuben Watt, chair of the Crawley Town Supporters’ Alliance (CTSA) and Sam Jordan, CTSA board member, used their new podcast called A Crawley Town Podcast, as a platform to try and alleviate the worries.

Reuben Watt and Sam Jordan have started a new Crawley Town podcast. Picture: submittedReuben Watt and Sam Jordan have started a new Crawley Town podcast. Picture: submitted
Reuben Watt and Sam Jordan have started a new Crawley Town podcast. Picture: submitted

Jordan said on the podcast: “I am not an expert but we have a couple of experts on the CTSA board. It’s important to look at the accounts over a longer period of time than just the last couple of years to give it the context.

“The accounts do say the club is insolvent because ultimately it’s losing money. A football club is a community asset and people will support it and love it and want it to prosper.

“If we look under net assets for example, so under Paul Hayward, his money was put in by share capital. Share capital is irreversible, it can’t be removed without a sale. The only he can get his money back is if he sells the football club and we are very grateful to Paul for taking us into the Football League and League One.

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“Ziya Eren mostly used donations, which are also irreversible and you can’t ask for those back without a sale.

“Paul Hayward and Ziya Eren both poured millions of pounds into our football club, didn't get all the money back they put in of course but made some money when they sold it.

“WAGMI are funding the club by loans, so these can be reversible but they need a repayment from somebody. The club can’t repay that unless they have the money. WAGMI would not be loaning the club that money if they did not need that money to operate. It’s important to point out these accounts were for last season when the budget was bigger than this season and we had signed Dom Telford, we signed Dion Conroy and we dismissed several managers.”

He added: “In reality the only way WAGMI can get their money back is through resale because if they are putting x pounds in and they want x pounds back they are only getting it through a sale.

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“I absolutely understand when people look at those accounts and go ‘oh dear, we are in big trouble’. And if we were a fruit and veg business, we would be in big trouble, however football clubs are notoriously funded by people with money and put their money in to make sure they don’t go under and ensure they aren’t in trouble.

“WAGMI could walk away tomorrow and leave the club with a load of debt, but if they did, they would not get their loans back. Each owner we have had has lost millions of of pounds.

"In conclusion, we are absolutely insolvent but we are totally dependent on the owners but we have been for the past 13 years. If WAGMI run out of cash, for example, and have a panic sale, we could go bust, go into administration, points deduction etc, which happened in 2006.

“The way the club is we need someone to invest millions of pounds in it every single year. Losses are not always a bad thing and they are not unusual at football clubs.”

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There was also a discussion on the podcast about the possibility of the club buying the Broadfield Stadium, which they currently lease from Crawley Borough Council.

Watt said: “The club need to find a way of making money and through the purchase of the stadium, as long as it’s kept still for footballing purposes, the purchase of the stadium is what could help the club move forward.

“Also, if there are potential buyers looking to purchase a football club, having the stadium owned by the club could make a big difference in attracting more buyers.”

Jordan said: “I think the stadium issue is very complex, very emotive and we could talk about it all day. It will be a major topic at the CTSA AGM on March 11. This is me speaking as a fan, I am very much on the fence and the reason for that is there are lots of angles you can look at this from.

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“This is our 13th year in the Football League and we have lost over £1 million every year. Because of the size of the football club and our aspirations to stay in the Football League, we have had to overspend compared to the revenue coming in.

“We could bring in more money if we owned the stadium because we could invest to do stuff to generator cash flow. However, some could say there is a downside because of the negative impact it could have later on if an owner of the football club chose to sell it.”

Jordan added: “When the lease was being negotiated we made aware the stadium may be put up for sale, so the CTSA supported the club in having talks about that. Talks are ongoing.

When we discuss at the ASGM we will educate the fan base on the pros and cons. I grew up watching this football club in the Southern League had some great times. I want us to stay in the Football League for as long as possible and attract as many fans as we can, but to stay in the EFL we can’t continue to lose millions of pounds.”

You can here more on these subjects on A Crawley Town Podcast – find it here.