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Review of PFC Accounts 2018-19
by Simon Colebrook

Added on 01 April 2020

Pompey have released the accounts for the 2018-19 season and as with last year, we’re going to give a brief summary of the key metrics so that fans can understand how the finances of the club are shaping up.

Whilst this may not seem quite as important at this challenging time for both football and the country, it is still worth showing how the finances of the club stack up. Especially as they face an unprecedented test of their resilience.

The news article on the club’s official website includes a link to download the accounts here: https://www.portsmouthfc.co.uk/news/2020/march/statement-of-accounts-2019/

I’d like to extend my thanks to Tony Brown and the club for giving me advanced sight of the accounts to be able to put this commentary together.

Profit and Loss Account

We’ll start with the Profit and Loss Account. This is the statement of the revenues the club generated and the costs it incurred during the year.

Last season was highly successful, with cup runs in the FA Cup reaching the 4th round and, of course, the Checkatrade Trophy going all the way to Wembley winning the trophy. This has resulted in club income rising significantly to £11.5m.

Ticket income was the main area of increase growing by 33% over last season. This reflects the extra games in the cups, the playoff semi and the share of the Wembley ticket revenue.

Monies from the EFL, Broadcasting and Prize Money also grew substantially, unsurprising given the high number of televised matches, the share of the Checkatrade TV money and of course the prize money from winning the competition.

Commercial and Merchandise income also showed good growth as the club continued to increase sponsorship and hospitality revenue. Additionally, this benefitted from the new merchandise agreement and club shop.


Wage costs are a key element of all football club spending and an area where many clubs allow their ambition to outstretch their funding ability.

PFC has operated a sustainable wage policy ever since the rescue from administration and this continues to be the case. The increase in revenues, plus profits on player sales that we’ll see later have allowed the club to fund a significant increase in the wage bill of £1m and remain sustainable.

We can see that the percentage of income spent on wages fell in 2018-19 showing that the club is maintaining a tight control on the wage budget.

Finally, we have the two measures of profitability – EBITDA and Net Profit.

EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) is the measure of whether the club generated enough income to cover its normal operating costs – ie, the wages, administrative costs, etc.

Net Profit is the total profit or loss taking the EBITDA figure and then subtracting depreciation on the stadium and other assets as well as the writing off of player contracts. When a player is signed the cost of that signing is spread out (written off or amortised in accounting language) over the length of the player’s contract. So, for example, if we sign a player for £300k and give him a 3 year contract then the amortisation cost is £100k per year.

Last year we saw the ability of Tornante to underwrite larger losses. On the face of it that turned around this year with a big profit being realised. However, we need to consider the profit on player sales that is included in these numbers.

Here we see the profits on player sales in the 2018-19 season. This profit includes the sale of Matt Clarke, as well as the windfall for the sell on for Adam Webster. The sale of Jamal Lowe came too late in the transfer window to be included in these numbers.

Once we take the player profit into account, we can see that the owners are continuing to underwrite the losses of a football club at top end of League One.

Balance Sheet

Next, we turn to the Balance Sheet. This shows the value of all the assets that the club owns, any monies that are owed to the club and also the money it owes other clubs, banks or creditors.

As with last year we look first at the assets of the club, in particular the spending on players and on improving the stadium, and other facilities.

Here we can see that spending on the stadium has continued with an additional £1.4m being spent on items such as the new floodlights and the recladding and roofing of the South Stand.

On top of that £940k was spend on player transfer fees and agents fees. The club has consistently stated that player profits will be used to fund both new players and future wage costs and this approach is evident from the way that the spending has been managed in these accounts.

Next, we look at the monies owed to the club, or Debtors as they are called in the accounts.

Last year the club reported that it had transferred £7m to its US parent company to receive a higher rate of interest and that this money was available to the club without conditions.

This year the accounts show that £1m was returned to the club, with £6m remaining in the US account. With £1.4m having been spent on the stadium this confirms the comments from last year that the funds are available to draw down as required to spend on the stadium.

Finally, on the Balance Sheet we look at the monies owed by the club, or Creditors as they are called in the accounts.

We can once again confirm that the club remains debt free. Although there are some large amounts shown as creditors, these relate to technical accounting adjustments due to money paid to the club that relates to future seasons. For example, the season ticket money received up to 30 June 2019 relates to the following season. Therefore, this is technically owed to the season ticket holders until the next season starts, but obviously in reality does not get repaid.


The accounts for 2018-19 illustrate the success of that season with cup runs and a trophy plus big profits from player sales. The club has used this to fund just under £1m in player purchases and an increase in the wage budget of a further £1m whilst remaining sustainable.

In addition, a further £1.4m has been spent on the stadium improving facilities and the infrastructure.

Overall, I’m pleased to be able to confirm that these accounts show the club to be in a very healthy state at the close of the 2018-19 season.

2019-20 season and the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak

The 2019-20 season was shaping up to be another successful year. With profits from the sale of Jamal Lowe, another successful FA Cup run, a 2nd Wembley final and the strong likelihood that we would at least reach the playoffs for the second year as well.

However, that has all changed with the shutdown of football in the UK in order to try to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Firstly, it must be stated that in the face of a serious public health emergency, it is only right that football in the UK is of secondary importance. The safety of players, club staff, fans and the wider public is the priority.

Football clubs at all levels face potentially catastrophic losses and many in Leagues One and Two are looking at a very uncertain future. Mark Catlin has stated that Tornante are standing strong in support of the club – which has been confirmed by Michael Eisner in a recent video message.

It is only right, though, that we ask the club for further comment about the impact of the crisis on the club and its plans for stadium investment and the playing budget.

Tony Brown, Chief Operating Officer at PFC commented

Our overriding first priority has been and will remain the immediate safety and health of all our employees, supporters and general public. Like every business; we have been focused on identifying different scenarios in order to best manage the potential financial impact on the club. We have been in regular contact with the EFL and other clubs via conference calls in the past two weeks, and club operations are continuing as normal including planned summer stadium works and football player recruitment. However, until there is a degree of certainty as to when we can hopefully return to a level of normal operations and assess any impact on the football industry, it's difficult at this time to make any concrete plans

Clearly, Pompey is fortunate to be in a better position than many clubs and to have the full support of its owners during this very difficult time.

Simon Colebrook


Pompey Supporters’ Trust


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