Much has been written on this blog, and previously on RangersTaxCase.com regarding the assets and liabilities of the former Rangers football club – however little has been done to look at the rest of the SPL and Scottish Football as a whole. Was it just Rangers making ridiculous ‘asset’ valuations or is there other clubs in real danger of following RFC to the grave?
Before we get started a quick explanation on the figures. They were all taken from the latest accounts as appearing on Duedil.com, so some are from 2010’s figures. I have also ‘tidied’ them up a little so that they are easily understandable, removing things such as minor stock holdings.
The big story in the Rangers case was how over valued their ‘assets’ were, and especially the freehold property. To remind you Rangers Balance sheet in 2010 was as below:
While on paper the net assets look very healthy, we all now know that the 130m of Fixed assets was in fact worth just 5.5m in the real world. If we change that 130m to the real life figure their balance sheet would have looked like this…
So, how do the rest of the SPL compare? This is a list of ‘fixed assets’ for each club as noted in their last accounts.
Predictably, Celtic lead the way, but a quick scout through the notes reveals the freehold properties are valued at 45m. Dundee prop up the table, but with no freehold properties to their name, this is not so surprising. One thing to note is the difference in value of the assets held by Aberdeen and Kilmarnock compared to clubs like Dundee Utd and St.Johnstone – this is important when we look at their balance sheets.
As you can see above, I have broken the balance sheet down into a few categories. We have the fixed assets we just discussed, followed by the cash in bank. Next is the debtors (money owed to the club within the next year) and then the creditors (money the club owes to others within the next year). A crude calculation gives us the Net Current assets or liabilities. A red number means that club owes more money in the next 12 months than they have in the bank, or are owed.
We then move on to long term creditors (money that is owed but not immediately – more than 1 year away) which will constitute loans from banks, or from shareholders. In the case of Hearts, who have the highest amount of long term debt in the SPL, 98% of this debt is owed to the parent company UAB, controlled by Romanov. This debt attracts a further 4.5% interest a year, while UAB also hold a floating charge over the clubs assets.
The final column gives us the Net assets or liabilities, taking into account the fixed assets of the company. As we saw earlier, Rangers had posted Net assets of 70m, only achieved by their ridiculous freehold property valuation. Are Hearts and Aberdeen doing the same? In the case of Hearts they include in their fixed assets 159,000 worth of ‘Memorabilia’… in addition to 15m of freehold property, while Aberdeen state in their accounts that the valuation of Pittodrie is a ‘rebuild’ value rather than a likely realistic sale price.
By declaring such high values on their balance sheets though, it produces a net asset figure, rather than a large liability that, in reality, is the case. Kilmarnock and Hibs to a lesser extent would also see their figures turn red with asset valuations downgraded.
What is heartening to see though, is two clubs with net current assets, in St.Johnstone and Motherwell. Saints were rescued from near bankruptcy in the 80’s by Geoff Brown and have lived within their means ever since. Motherwell likewise have been in financial trouble in recent times, but the club appears to have stabilized and is now living within their means on and off the park.
If another insolvency event hits an SPL club, the MSM will blame it on the demise of Rangers. What can be clearly seen here though is the damage was done years ago to clubs like Hearts, Dundee Utd and Aberdeen – it will be a battle to get back to the kind of financial position that clubs such as St.Johnstone currently enjoy. However, the message that Saints are currently sending out is that its possible to have a competitive team without breaking the bank, as long as others aren’t artificially inflating wage demands.
The accounts I used to get the above figures are downloadable here: I was unable to find for Inverness – if anyone can find please let me know and I can add them to the table. When time permits I will extend this to include SFL clubs as well.