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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Forest Green Rovers reports £1.3m loss

With no tournament victory since last October, English Football League strugglers Forest Green Rovers are sitting uncomfortably in EFL's League Two drop zone, battling to escape a second successive year of relegation and potential banishment down to the National League.

Against that change – a move which in itself is generally suggested by industry analysts to entrain losses for a club that come close to a £1m – FGR Ltd has just released its annual figures for the financial year ending last June.

The figures, which cover the period when FGR, which is part of the Green Britain Group Ltd, was promoted to League One for the first time in 133 years, reveal how the club made a loss of more than £1.3m for the period while it was playing the prestigious League One likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich. The deficit comes in contrast to the prevous year's minor profit of £32,641.

Gross profit for the year was £2.1m, which was almost the same as the 21-22 period, but administrative expenses, powered to a significant extent by the acquisition of new players, soared from £2.3m to £3.5m. 

But it wasn't all negatives: record revenue for the year resulted in a 32% rise to £8.4m and the company finished the financial year with almost £1m in the bank.

The accounts also revealed that the club, which dates back to 1889 and is the world's only vegan club, enjoyed its biggest ever match attendances.

In an overview of the year, the report said: "the New Lawn staged 30 (2022: 27) match day events, comprising, 23 League One games and 7 domestic cup games. After having been promoted to League One in the 2021/22 season, the Club was relegated back to League Two due to poor on field performance. 

"Off the pitch it was a turbulent season and saw several key personnel departing the club: the Head Coach in May 2022; the Director of Football in September 2022 and the CEO in January 2023. By the end of the year, the club welcomed a new CEO and Director of Football, ahead of the new season."

The report added: "Despite the poor performance on the field, the Club did see benefits of playing in League One with the highest average attendances in the Club's history as well as attracting new commercial sponsors."

Asif Rehmanwala, Director of FGR Ltd, said that promotion to League One saw revenue increase by 32% to £8,356,315, 2022's tally being £6,320,943, while revenue grew significantly across the board with matchday growing by 46%, commercial revenues growing by 32% and football revenues growing by 26%.

Gross margin, however, fell to 25% from 34% in the previous year due mainly to the investment in the first team and football management.

He added: "This was also paired with a general increase in the costs of running events in line with the general cost of living trends across the UK economy. Administration expenses increased to £3,599,021 (2022: £2,356,018). Costs increased across the board with a significant increase due to the depreciation charged on the stadium following a review of the estimate of the remaining useful economic life ahead of the move to the new stadium.

As a result, the company has made a loss before tax of £1,362,432.

The losses for the year, he said, saw the company's financial position decline in the year to a net asset position of £2,292,962, which was attributed to the year's losses.

Reiterating the club's undaunted ambitions to aim for future promotion though, he said FGR Ltd had gone on to "invest in the New Lawn Stadium including an expanded and refurbished hospitality lounge for home fans", while plans for the Eco Park stadium development progressed.

He added: "The club continues to invest for a sustainable future by supporting its Academy to produce and retain 'home grown' players that are capable of adding to the first team squad."

And crucially, the underpinning support of Green Britain Group Ltd was solid, the Group remaining "fully committed to the club and its work to promote our shared sustainability agenda".

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