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Saints Reveal Financial Cost To Club Of Lockdown
Friday, 16th Oct 2020 09:43

On Thursday evening Saints hosted an online focus group meeting to discuss ongoing plans to get supporters back into the stadium and ongoing ticket issues, Saints CEO Martin Semmens along with other board members joined the meeting and spelled out the current situation in black & White

Over the past year or I have been a member of a focus group of various supporters of all backgrounds convened by the club to gauge opinions etc to enable them to not only better understand the club & culture, but also to try and make decisions that will be in line or as near as can be, of what the supporters want from supporting the club, this group is not to question transfers and team selections etc, but about the stadium and what the supporters feel are good and bad ideas etc.

Last night the meeting was joined by CEO Martin Semmens, managing director Toby Steele and chief commercial officer David Thomas.

This brought a new topic to the agenda and this was how Saints as a club are coping with the issues surrounding lockdown.

It was spelt out that there were many tricky decisions to be made, the shirt sponsorship being one of them, it was revealed that the shirts had been ready and printed by the turn of the year, as is the need when ordering a run of many thousands with a massive company like Under Armour who have many sports teams around the world to produce replica kit for.

All seemed well throughout the summer until August 2nd when LD Sports informed the club it would be unable to honour the contract, leaving Saints with the contract of Kyle Walker Peters on the table needing to get that money in fast, hence the new deal with Sportsbetio being done in haste, but enabling the signing of Walker Peters to go ahead.

More of the kit in another article, but then came the news out of the blue.

Semmens & Steele talked about Project Big Picture and although they had voted completely against it, knowing the ramifications if this was voted through and all the power handed to the Big Six clubs, football and Saints are both very much treading a tricky path at the moment.

In Saints case that means a deficit at the moment of £3 million a month on top of around £22 million shortfall so far.

The issues are complex including loss of TV revenue and having to pay back Sky for last season, but Semmens assured fans that the club are in no imminent danger at the moment, having secured a borrowing facility to cover this loss, but they had banked on getting supporters back into the ground in October to start eating back at reducing monthly losses and hopefully keeping down the amount borrowed.

They seemed comfortable with carrying this loss short term, but long term it could become an issue, but they were of the opinion that being run as a business and not reliant on money from an owner they were much better placed to be able to survive the crisis than some who if owners funds dried up would be in desperate straits.

Unlike the likes of Spurs, Saints have not made wholesale redundancies nor have they taken advantage of governement furlough or loan schemes they have attempted to stand on their own two feet, but the situation is critical for football.

Although Project Big Picture was not the answer, change is needed and more to the point club's need to be able to get supporters back into grounds and money generated.

Semmens was clear that being able to get 8,000 supporters into the ground twice a month would not solve the problem, but if it brought in £500,000 then he would accept that ahead of no income at all, likewise the Pay per view scheme, he was not in favour of it as a fan and understood the pricing criticism, but as the CEO of a Premier League football club, at the moment he will take any income he can get.

This is the situation throughout football and my personal view is that now is the time for Saints supporters to realise that this is a time for them to stand up and be counted, yes football has become bloated and obscene, but we either support our club or not.

We did not complain when they signed players at £20 million and paid them the going rate, indeed it could be said many moaned that we didn't spend enough, we have supported the club through the good time, now is the time to support them in the bad.

It might not sound much, but buying merchandise will help, if every Saints supporter spent £10 in the club shop each month it would bring in something like £500,000 that is a big chunk of the monthly deficit.

This is not Martin Semmens viewpoint, at least not publicly or to the meeting last night, but it is mine, do we want a Premier League football club or alternatively we can sell the players slash the costs and join Pompey in the lower Leagues boasting about being a sleeping giant.

This is a wake up call for football, already there are stirring and the Big Six have been roped back into line, but football will not survive without fans, the deficit each month is basically the ticket money from 30,000 Saints fans in St Mary's.

It is not bucket rattling time for Southampton FC although it will be for some clubs, look at the definition of the word supporter, this is our Club and our culture !

Photo: Action Images

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SalisburySaint added 10:25 - Oct 16
Good assessment of meeting/ focus Nick

Was good to see how open they were and gave a lot of commercially sensitive information they didn’t need to, and didn’t shy away from any questions as Politicians would

SaintPaulVW added 12:31 - Oct 16
Spot on. Good article.

felly1 added 16:25 - Oct 16
Thanks for this very enlightening read.
Like alot of people I don't understand why people were able to go to a socially distanced theatre or Cinema but not a reduced capacity football stadium.
As you say it's times like these that we have to back our club and not nitpick over petty gripes

mattthelegend added 18:44 - Oct 16
Part me of agrees with your article Nick, I love the club but I am not always sure that love is reciprocal. I like many supporters have grown tired of football and it’s relentless greed. It’s a business now and at the end of the day it’s all about money and to hell with the consequences, even project big picture was all about control under the guise of helping out the lower leagues.

Time for football to have a conversation with itself.

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