Crystal Palace’s long delayed financial accounts showed that the club is cashing in successfully on the TV riches from being in the Premier League, with a £11.8million profit on the 2016-2017 year.
According to Deloitte’s Money League, based on these latest figures and ranked by financial revenues, Palace are now 26th in world football, ahead of giants of European football such as Benfica, Ajax and Celtic.
The delay in delivering the accounts, which the club put down to changes in the way its accountants wanted to show internal, inter-company loans, got Palace’s directors a stern warning from the Companies House regulators.
Duly scolded, the accounts were released last week, and cover the period that saw Palace safely (just) complete their fourth season in the top tier, the departure of Alan Pardew as manager and Sam Allardyce’s rescue mission. It was also the first full season under the control of the three equal shareholders, with the chairman, Steve Parish, having been joined by American businessmen Josh Harris and David Blitzer in December 2015.
The accounts do not reveal the name of the club’s highest paid director – it is assumed to be Parish – but it does show that they were paid £2,150,000, which is the fourth highest director remuneration in English football. Only Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United pay any of their directors more.
Palace’s unnamed director also qualified for a contractual bonus in this financial year, though this amount was waived and reinvested in the club.
The previous financial year had shown a near £7million loss, so these accounts represent something of a “bedding-in” of Palace at a Premier League club, with revenues hitting a record £143million, up 40 per cent from the previous year’s £102million.
That includes a profit on player sales of £35million, an increase on £25million the previous season. This is the eighth highest among Premier League clubs, and includes the proceeds from Yannick Bolasie’s move to Everton and the transfers of Dwight Gayle to Newcastle, Alex McCarthy to Southampton and Mile Jedinak to Aston Villa.
The biggest factor in this financial well-being is cash from the Premier League television deal with Sky and BT Sport, with Palace’s TV income up to £117million. That’s a whacking great 82 per cent of the club’s revenues derived from TV coverage – a dependency which Palace shares with the majority of Premier League clubs.
The club also reported an increase in commercial income to £15.2million, and a £3.7million legal settlement from former boss Tony Pulis, though gate receipts were down compared to the previous year (when the Eagles soared all the way to the Wembley FA Cup final).
The price of success is a soaring wage bill, up from £81million the previous season to £112million. This seems likely to include any pay-off to Pardew and Allardyce’s bonus for keeping the club up, though neither of these figures are itemised separately.
For a club which was on the brink of going under when Parish stepped in eight years ago, having a £12million profit on a season which successfully delivered continued Premier League status has got to be one of the turnaround stories of the past few years. And it emphasises the fundamental importance of the club maintaining its place among the Premier League’s top 20 clubs for years to come.
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