Football Shorts part III – Cash Flow

Michael Dell set up the Dell Computer Corporation the day after Everton featured in a 4th round FA Cup replay at Prestfield Stadium, drawing 0-0 on a bitterly cold night in the winter of 1984. I mention him because he gave one of the best descriptions of the importance of cash flow I’ve ever come across.

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When discussing how his board ran his company he said the following “We were always focused on our profit and loss statement. But cash flow was not a regularly discussed topic. It was as if we were driving along, watching only the speedometer, when in fact we were running out of gas.”

That’s precisely how UEFA, the Premier League and the English Football League regulate football. Financial Fair Play and profit & sustainability rules regulate club’s finances by measuring the P&L statement (the speedometer).

The assumption was if you regulate the P&L then there’s always enough gas in the tank  (cash in the bank) – the name of the rule profit & sustainability more than indicates this. Why did they make this assumption? Because they assumed that the sources of income would never dry up.  This, despite the crisis that beset the Football League and its members with the collapse of ITV Digital in 2002. The collapse of the deal created an almighty cash flow crisis – clubs were committed to spending more cash than they were about to receive.

A quick lesson in cash flow statements

Cash flow is calculated by looking at 3 principal areas, operating cash flow, from investing activities and finally from financing activities

So in football, cash from operations takes net income (Match day, Commercial and broadcasting) minus operating expenses (wages, other operating costs), tax and net interest paid. If we wanted to create a cash flow statement we would add back in the amortisation and depreciation charges as they reflect cash already spent (at the time of the purchase of the asset).

Cash from investing activities in football arises from the trading of players and occasionally the selling or buying of fixed assets such as land and stadia. As I have spoken about before, player trading has been a critical part of club’s financial activities for many years. The purchase and sale of players (and the underlying payment/receivable terms) are hugely important to club’s cash flow management.

Finally there is the impact of financing activities. Raising capital through a share issue or arranging finance through bonds or debt obviously benefits the cash flow statement. (As can the aforementioned payment terms on player transfers which in theory is another form of debt). There is a couple of issues in football however. The regulations link expenditure to income. One of the impacts of that is that in a sustained loss making situation as a result of falling revenues it can be difficult to fund these losses from capital contributions or increased debt. Something which will cause several clubs (including Everton) problems unless regulations are relaxed.

Raising debt can be difficult because of the football creditors rule (more later).

The information, series of charts and ultimate conclusion are going to look at the change in cash flow, not cash flow itself. They will show the degree by which financial circumstances may change due to Covid-19

Impact of Covid on cash flow arising from operating activities.

Match day revenues have been impacted this season and will be considerably impacted next season. I will continue with the assumption that no matches are played in season 20/21 in front of paying spectators: Earlier in the series I estimated revenue losses as:

Lost match day revenues

£ millions Lost matchday t/o  (2019/20) Whole season 20/21 Total
Manchester United 17.0 110.8 127.8
Tottenham Hotspur 15.8 100.0 115.8
Arsenal 12.8 96.2 109.0
Liverpool 12.5 84.2 96.7
Manchester City 12.2 55.0 67.2
Chelsea 8.1 66.6 74.7
West Ham United 6.2 27.1 33.3
Newcastle United 5.7 23.9 29.6
Brighton & Hove Albion 4.2 18.5 22.7
Southampton 3.4 17.0 20.4
Everton 3.2 14.2 17.4
Leicester City 2.8 14.7 17.5
Crystal Palace 2.1 10.9 13.0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2.0 11.5 13.5
Watford 1.9 8.0 9.9
Burnley 1.1 5.6 6.7
Bournemouth 1.1 5.0 6.1
3 promoted teams 6.5 25.9 32.4
Total 118.6 695.1 813.7

For ease I will look at the 17 clubs in the Premier League 2018/19 and 2019/20, on the assumption they each remain in the Premier League.

Broadcasting revenues

The penalties applied to Premier League clubs are highly dependent upon the outcome of Project re-start.

There appears (as reported by the Athletic) to be two possible outcomes although the terms are yet to be finalised. The outcomes depend upon this Premier League season successfully re-starting on June 12th and finishing by July 26th. Failure brings in a second much more punitive penalty:

Broadcasting revenue losses Season completes 12 June -26 July When payable? Payable per club before end July 2020 Payable per club season 2021/22
£’000s
Payment to domestic broadcasters 223,000 Season 2021/22 11,150
Payment to international broadcasters 107,000 End of July 2020 5,035*
Total 330,000 5,035* 11,150

*The above chart assumes equal payments by each club and the agreement of BT to defer domestic rebates in the same manner as Sky.

Failure to re-start on June 12th or finish by July 26th

Season does not complete Payable per club When payable?
£000’s
442,500                        22,125
319,700                        15,985
Total:
762,200                        38,110* end of July 2020
*assumes equal payments per club,

In addition to the above, it is not perhaps unreasonable to see a reduction in broadcasting revenues next season given the changed nature of the product on offer, and as said previously, the chances of all broadcasters remaining in business.

Lost commercial and sponsorship revenues

With over 300 individual deals across Premier league clubs it is impossible to put a firm figure on potential reductions in the immediate term. However, all clubs will be suffering from a loss of merchandising, match day entertaining, food and beverage and pitchside sponsorship. Over the summer many of the larger clubs will miss out on lucrative post and pre-season tours to Asia and the US.

I will assume 20% reductions in all commercial revenues for the last three months of the season  which equates to 5% of annual revenues. For season 2020/21, on the basis of no paying spectators I will assume 20% of annual revenues. Using 2018/19 as a base this would produce the following reductions in revenues:

Reduction in commercial/sponsorship revenues
£000’s 2019/20 2020/21
Manchester United –       13,750 –         55,000
Tottenham Hotspur –         6,750 –         27,000
Arsenal –         5,550 –         22,200
Liverpool –         9,400 –         37,600
Manchester City –       11,350 –         45,400
Chelsea –         9,000 –         36,000
West Ham United –         1,800 –            7,200
Newcastle United –         1,420 –            5,680
Brighton Hove Albion –            550 –            2,200
Southampton –         1,000 –            4,000
Everton –         2,050 –            8,200
Leicester City –         1,800 –            7,200
Crystal Palace –            800 –            3,200
Wolverhampton Wanderers –         1,400 –            5,600
Watford –            700 –            2,800
Burnley –            800 –            3,200
Bournemouth –            500 –            2,000
Total –       67,750 –       271,000

Impact of Covid on cash arising from investing activities

I have often talked about player trading profits being an important part of football finances. However, trading profits are not to be confused with the movement of cash arising from player purchases and sales as shown in most clubs’ cash flow statements.

It is widely expected that trading volumes will fall and that as a result of that and a reduction in player values (arising out of expected revenue reductions) the overall cash movements will reduce significantly.

It is therefore possible to estimate the impact reduced activity and reduced player prices would have on club’s cash flows.

I’ve assumed (i) a 25% reduction in trading volume, and (ii) a 25% reduction in transfer values. Below is a chart using data from clubs’ cash flow statements to estimate the impact of that on clubs’ cash flows:

2018/19 net purchases 2020/21 net purchases Net improve-ment in cash flow
Manchester United 135 75.9 59.1
Tottenham Hotspur 3 1.7 1.3
Arsenal 62 34.9 27.1
Liverpool 59 33.2 25.8
Manchester City 77 43.3 33.7
Chelsea 162 91.1 70.9
West Ham United 49 27.6 21.4
Newcastle United 16 9.0 7.0
Brighton Hove Albion 72 40.5 31.5
Southampton 10 5.6 4.4
Everton 68 38.3 29.8
Leicester City 40 22.5 17.5
Crystal Palace 41 23.1 17.9
Wolverhampton Wanderers 66 37.1 28.9
Watford 38 21.4 16.6
Burnley 13 7.3 5.7
Bournemouth 36 20.3 15.8
Total 947.0 532.7 414.3

Whilst a reduction in trading volume and prices would impact the profit and loss accounts of each club, in cash flow terms it can be seen as a large positive. The positive impact would be a reduction in cash used to fund transfers. Whilst advantageous in the short term, longer term reduced volume and value would damage the profitability of clubs and produce even greater pressure on future cost reductions. It would be a significant deflationary factor.

Financing activities

I am going to talk about the cash from financing activities after we’ve worked out the range of cash flow shortfalls for each club.

Aggregate picture:

Let’s look at the aggregate picture for this financial year (2019/20) in terms of reduction in cash flow (i) in the event the season completes before July 26th and (ii) it fails to complete:

(i) Season completes by July 26th 2020 – equal penalty applied to all clubs, reduction in cash flow from operating activities

Reduction in cash flow £000’s  Matchday Broadcast Commer-cial Total
Manchester United            17,000            5,035          13,750            35,785
Tottenham Hotspur            15,800            5,035            6,750            27,585
Arsenal            12,800            5,035            5,500            23,335
Liverpool            12,500            5,035            9,400            26,935
Manchester City            12,200            5,035          11,350            28,585
Chelsea              8,100            5,035            9,000            22,135
West Ham United              6,200            5,035            1,800            13,035
Newcastle United              5,700            5,035            1,420            12,155
Brighton Hove Albion              4,200            5,035                550              9,785
Southampton              3,400            5,035            1,000              9,435
Everton              3,200            5,035            2,050            10,285
Leicester City              2,800            5,035            1,800              9,635
Crystal Palace              2,100            5,035                800              7,935
Wolverhampton Wanderers              2,000            5,035            1,400              8,435
Watford              1,900            5,035                700              7,635
Burnley              1,100            5,035                800              6,935
Bournemouth              1,100            5,035                500              6,635
Total          112,100          85,595          68,570          266,265

(ii) Season fails to complete by July 26th 2020 – equal penalty applied to all clubs, reduction in cash flow from operating activities

Reduction in cash flow £000’s Matchday Broadcast Commercial Total
Manchester United          17,000          38,110          13,750          68,860
Tottenham Hotspur          15,800          38,110            6,750          60,660
Arsenal          12,800          38,110            5,500          56,410
Liverpool          12,500          38,110            9,400          60,010
Manchester City          12,200          38,110          11,350          61,660
Chelsea            8,100          38,110            9,000          55,210
West Ham United            6,200          38,110            1,800          46,110
Newcastle United            5,700          38,110            1,420          45,230
Brighton Hove Albion            4,200          38,110               550          42,860
Southampton            3,400          38,110            1,000          42,510
Everton            3,200          38,110            2,050          43,360
Leicester City            2,800          38,110            1,800          42,710
Crystal Palace            2,100          38,110               800          41,010
Wolverhampton Wanderers            2,000          38,110            1,400          41,510
Watford            1,900          38,110               700          40,710
Burnley            1,100          38,110               800          40,010
Bournemouth            1,100          38,110               500          39,710
Total       112,100       647,870          68,570       828,540

Now we need to look at the impact of Covid-19 on season 2020/21.The assumptions here are no paying spectators, 20% reduction in commercial income and a 10% reduction in broadcasting revenues (either because there’s a renegotiation due to empty stadia or some smaller broadcasters fail to pay). There’s a positive cash flow contribution from the assumed reduction in player trading.

Match-day Commer-cial Broad-cast Reduced Player trading cashflow Total
Manchester United 111,000         55,000     24,100 59,100.0     131,000
Tottenham Hotspur 100,000         27,000     24,400 1,300.0     150,100
Arsenal 96,000         22,000     18,300 27,100.0     109,200
Liverpool 84,000         37,600     26,100 25,800.0     121,900
Manchester City 55,000         45,400     25,300 33,700.0       92,000
Chelsea 67,000         36,000     20,000 70,900.0       52,100
West Ham United 27,000           7,200     12,700 21,400.0       25,500
Newcastle United 25,000           5,680     12,400 7,000.0       36,080
Brighton Hove Albion 19,000           2,200     11,300 31,500.0         1,000
Southampton 17,000           4,000     11,300 4,400.0       27,900
Everton 14,200           8,200     13,300 29,800.0         5,900
Leicester City 15,000           7,200     12,800 17,500.0       17,500
Crystal Palace 15,000           3,200     12,400 17,900.0       12,700
Wolverhampton Wanderers 12,000           5,600     13,300 28,900.0         2,000
Watford 9,000           2,800     12,400 166,00.0         7,600
Burnley 6,000           3,200     11,300 5,700.0       14,800
Bournemouth 5,000           2,000     11,600 15,800.0         2,800
Total   677,200      274,280   273,000 414,300.0     810,080

 

To get a complete picture of the cash flow implications from March 2020 through to June 30th 2021, we must add this season’s potential impact with that projected for next season. Given we do not know for sure whether this season completes or not I will provide for both scenarios (i) completion (ii) non-completion:

PLEASE REMEMBER: these are not predictions of actual cash flow. They are showing the change in cash flow since the time the Premier League was halted. They show the degree by which cash flow could deteriorate with reasonable assumptions about the impact Covid-19 will have on football.

Cash flow impact March 2020 – June 2021 £’000s * Completed 2019/20 season *Incomplete 2019/20 season
Manchester United       166,785       199,860
Tottenham Hotspur       177,685       210,760
Arsenal       132,535       165,610
Liverpool       148,835       181,910
Manchester City       120,585       153,660
Chelsea          74,235       107,310
West Ham United          38,535          71,610
Newcastle United          48,235          81,310
Brighton Hove Albion          10,785          43,860
Southampton          37,335          70,410
Everton          16,185          49,260
Leicester City          27,135          60,210
Crystal Palace          20,635          53,710
Wolverhampton Wanderers          10,435          43,510
Watford          15,235          48,310
Burnley          21,735          54,810
Bournemouth            9,435          42,510
Total    1,076,345    1,638,620

OK, so how to fund this?

I ask this because the magnitude of deterioration in cash flow is so huge, not even usually cash rich Arsenal, there is not a single club who can ride such a reduction in cash (assuming no further changes to expenditure such as wage reductions or deferrals) without (i) raising equity or (ii) raising debt.

Let me give you two examples – Manchester United informed the NYSE it has a £140 million debt facility to draw upon, and secondly Tottenham Hotspur.

There’s a temptation from some to think the models shown are unrealistic. It will never be as bad as I am portraying.

Tottenham Hotspur, the best run club in financial terms and with the most financially astute board of directors, has arranged a £175 million credit facility with the Bank of England under the Government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility. Under the terms of the deal Tottenham can draw down up to £175 million at 0.5% interest. The credit line is unsecured.

The reason Tottenham Hotspur have arranged this line of credit is that their own assessment is that their cash flow will be impacted by Covid-19 by upto £200 million (my model calculated before their deal entered the public domain, suggests a range of £177 – 210 million)

Not all clubs will have access to the debt markets in the way Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur can. Both clubs are highly creditworthy, have profitable businesses in normal times and are professionally run by people credible in the finance markets.

In the final piece, I will offer some thoughts as to the impact of the change in cash flows and how each club and their owners might finance their cash short falls.

To go back to Michael Dell, a number of clubs were running fine with gas in the tank and plenty of refueling opportunities, others were/are not. A hole in the tank is the last thing that they require and for some the needle is already on red with the warning light flickering.

Thanks for reading!



Categories: Everton, Everton finances

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3 replies

  1. Another great read Paul, a big thank-you for all the hard work that you have put into this.

    I am sure they will be a few pretty shocked by the numbers, but that is the way the madness of the modern game has taken us, for all it’s beautiful deep winter pitches and high speed technical virtuosity.

    I have to say I am relieved that my club had the foresight to grow it’s cash balance (we will have to go through the practice again which will hamper our on the pitch growth), though we may have to re-open our overdraft account (which was closed because it had not been used in a few years).

    I am also relieved that in practice it is unlikely that the tv rebates will be paid in the equal shares you have used in this exercise (I fully appreciate doing it using the distribution formulas is nigh on impossible).

    Possibly the one upside is that formulas will ensure that the disparity between top and bottom for TV monies is likely to be reduced if the 20% reduction used in your calculations for next season is applied in reality as there will be less TV appearance and merit based monies for the most popular and/or successful clubs

  2. Another great read Paul, and a big thank-you for all the hard work that you have put into this.

    I am sure they will be a few pretty shocked by the numbers, but that is the way the madness of the modern game has taken us, for all it’s beautiful deep winter pitches and high speed technical virtuosity.

    I have to say I am relieved that my club had the foresight to grow it’s cash balance (we will have to go through the practice again which will hamper our on the pitch growth), though we may have to re-open our overdraft account (which was closed because it had not been used in a few years).

    I am also relieved that in practice it is unlikely that the tv rebates will be paid in the equal shares you have used in this exercise (I fully appreciate doing it using the distribution formulas is nigh on impossible).

    Possibly the one upside is that formulas will ensure that the disparity between top and bottom for TV monies is likely to be reduced if the 20% reduction used in your calculations for next season is applied in reality as there will be less TV appearance and merit based monies for the most popular and/or successful clubs

  3. Hi Paul,

    This was a really interesting series. As with any recession it seems that there is an uneven impact upon those teams involved, and this will not occur in what might seem either a fair or logical manner. Clubs who have speculated in the good times (big contracts, large squads, players on long term deals) could get burnt for doing things that 3 months ago were sound business strategy.

    There are clearly opportunities for smarter clubs, who can pre-empt what is occurring to get ahead of the curve here. I suspect we will see something of a U shame recession in football and the bottom point may not even be hit until next summer in terms of transfer spend, with multiple seasons lagging at the bottom before gradual recovery.

    Whats also very clear is TV rights make a huge impact upon 14 teams, while commercial revenues (and the wider impacts of the recession) disproportionately impact the top 6. As the recession appears to deepen, there’s little doubt to me that the top 6 teams will feel it more than the rest. With each week that goes buy without the economy recovering, I do sense it becomes less likely we just return back to February 2020 levels of spending within football. While the re-opening may bring some revenues back, I doubt we get to the 100% level for some time.

    Likewise the elephant in the room for all of this is also European competition. If the CL/EL can’t be finished UEFA may find it difficult to claw any money back from sponsors etc. The monies they can may well need to be used to pay their own staff, before anything is given to clubs. Even if they play the games, you’d imagine the rebate due will be potentially higher than what sky asked for in the league (as it really is the back end of cup competitions that count). Sky asked for 50% of the outstanding money paid back and got it, how much will broadcasters want for a competition which is greatly reduced, or played out of season etc? Thats a best case scenario that for the next couple of years European payments are massively down, which again is a burden on the top 6.

    There is little doubt that the TV revenue will also decline, which is more of a factor for the bottom 14. However I don’t see the decline being as potentially sharp as drops in none commercial revenues. However that will probably dictate how this situation develops. At present I would estimate the gap between richest to smallest turnover may move from over 5:1 to around the 3:1 margin, with potentially those at the upper end posting enormous losses that have to be serviced. Conversely that may lead to a more open, volatile, egalitarian and potentially interesting league as a result (and may just help the PL in the medium term).

    For Everton, the time is really now to be getting ahead. Looking at what companies are likely to emerge from this recession stronger, even if they are smaller businesses now. How do we appeal to them as a business partner? How do our values match theirs? How can we help them as a business grow? In a league which is more open, how can we pitch to companies that pay big sponsorship for guaranteed European exposure that may not be in existence?

    With crisis comes opportunity.

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