While football clubs in the Premier League enjoy huge revenues from television rights, global merchandising and sponsorship deals, clubs in lower leagues struggle to balance the books. A survey of football club directors by accountants PKF found that, while 56 percent of Premier League respondents felt their current financial position was very healthy, the numbers dropped to 25 percent in the Championship, 20 percent in League 1, and 38 percent in League 2. Local amateur and professional clubs also face a continuous struggle to raise revenue, although they do not have the burden of large wage bills and expensive stadiums to maintain.
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The Football Association provides budgeting guidelines for local club treasurers. The guidelines stress the importance of balancing revenue against the regular costs of hiring or maintaining match and training facilities, paying players and officials, purchasing kit and equipment, and covering items such as travel costs or affiliation fees. As well as raising revenue, treasurers must also ensure they have adequate income at the times they need it, particularly during the competitive season.
Ticket and programme sales provide an important source of revenue for clubs with their own ground. Although attendances may be small compared with those at Football League matches, spectators provide a regular income stream. Club officials should aim to increase attendance by ensuring that they offer spectators adequate parking, good refreshment facilities and a welcoming atmosphere. Offering affordable family tickets or discounts to local schools, for example, can help to build a sense of community at the club and attract more spectators. Good results and a bonus, like a good cup run or a promotion battle, also help to boost numbers.
Encouraging fans to become members of the club provides another source of regular revenue. To attract fans, membership should offer privileges, such as discounts on tickets or merchandise, advance sales of tickets to special matches and invitations to social events. Clubs with their own grounds can offer corporate membership to local businesses, with privileges such as access to the directors’ box and special corporate events. Building a strong membership can also provide a basis for growing other forms of revenue, such as income from bar sales, social events or fundraising events.
Income from sponsorship and advertising provides a valuable boost to club revenue. Treasurers should aim to attract sponsors for club kit or part of the ground, such as a stand. Clubs can raise advertising revenue by offering space to local businesses on perimeter boards, entrance areas and in match programmes.
Successful clubs find it easier to attract sponsorship and advertising. However, grants are available to help smaller clubs develop their facilities. The Football Foundation website provides links to a range of grants, such as the Our Facilities scheme, which provides funds for projects such as improving changing rooms, clubhouses or pitches. Schemes like "Build the Game" or "Grow the Game" provide grants for small projects that aim to increase grass-roots participation in the sport.
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