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Tough finances in the Championship


With all the clubs in the Championship in 2015/16 having now published their accounts (except Bolton Wanderers), the author of the authoritative Swiss Ramble blog has now come up with some fascinating statistics.  

Of course, it is well known that Championship clubs like to splash the cash in an effort to reach the Premier League.   However, these figures show how difficult it is to avoid a loss in the Championship and how much parachute payments distort the financial picture.   One wonders if their level stops clubs reining in wages as much as they should.

Only three clubs made a cash profit before player sales and exceptional items: Burnley, £8m; Hull City, £1m and Wolves, £1m.  At the other end of the spectrum, Derby County made a cash loss of £22m. Only Wolves made an overall profit.

If one includes parachute payments, the highest revenue figures were at clubs receiving them: Hull City (£42m); QPR (£42m); and Burnley (£40m).   Taking them out of the picture, Leeds United had the highest revenue at £30m, followed by Brighton at £25m and Derby County at £23m.

The highest wage bills were at clubs with parachute payments: QPR, £41m; Fulham, £36m; Cardiff City, £34m (although it should be noted that the Bluebirds cut their wage bill by £8m).  Wolves were also well down the wage bill rankings at £18m which helps to explain why they were the only club to make a modest profit.

The biggest increases in wage bills were at clubs chasing promotion: Middlesbrough, +£11.9m; Derby County +£10.1m; Burnley +£6.7m; and Sheffield Wednesday +£5.9m.    However, Rotherham United, for whom the target was avoiding relegation, were next in line at +£3.4m.

Revenues were flat at Championship clubs.  The biggest increase was £7m at Sheffield Wednesday, but they reached the play off final.   Leeds United saw an increase of £5.7m.

Most Championship clubs have wages to turnover ratios of over 100 per cent when the recommended level is 50 per cent which is not achieved by any club.   The worst cases are Nottingham Forest and Brentford, both on 166 per cent.   Leeds United had the best figure at 59 per cent.

Commercial income was highest at Leeds United, boosted by bringing catering back in house(£16.7m), followed by Brighton and Hove Albion (£9.4m) and Derby County (£8.6m).  At the other end of the spectrum were two clubs that were relegated: Charlton Athletic (£2.4m) and MK Dons (£1.8m).

Six clubs averaged attendances of over 20,000.   Derby County were way ahead at 29,663, followed by Brighton on 25,583.  The other four clubs were Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United and Wolves.   Rotherham United occupied bottom spot with 10,228.