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Ebbsfleet United report an operating loss of almost £2million for 2016-17

By Steve Tervet

Ebbsfleet United lost almost £2million in the season which saw them promoted to the National League.

The club's latest accounts, for 2016-17, show a gross loss of £1.3million and running costs of £645,000 - a figure not even covered by their annual turnover.

Fleet's revenue for the year to May 31, 2017 was £550,000 and they were left with more than £1million due to creditors within a year.

Ebbsfleet celebrate winning the National League South play-off final Picture: Andy Payton
Ebbsfleet celebrate winning the National League South play-off final Picture: Andy Payton

The numbers underline Ebbsfleet's total dependance on the external funding of Dr Abdulla Al-Humaidi, who bought the club in 2013.

But the owner will keep underwriting their debts until the Kuflink Stadium is completely redeveloped and starts generating enough money to make the club self-sustainable.

Dean Pooley replaced Peter Varney as vice-chairman midway through the current financial year and he insists the balance sheet shouldn't worry supporters.

Pooley said: "We're a unique scenario where we depend solely on one funder. It will carry on that Abdulla will always write off any debt incurred at the end of every season and we start afresh. We're not continually running up costs, that's what we've agreed and then bang, it's all closed off and we start again the next year.

"Football's a unique industry. It's very rare you find a club that's running in profit or not got some form of debt.

"I suppose it is (a big loss), even though we've got a few clubs (in this division) with substantially bigger budgets than we have so we're not the big fish any more.

"A lot of that incurs the developments that are going on at the club, it's not all targeted at players.

"It's a step back financially to go forward, to try to earn some more money further down the line and turn this into a sustainable club - not just dependant on one owner or, in 10-20 years' time, another owner. There is a business philosophy that the club will always be here."

Pooley expects the 2017-18 accounts to paint a brighter picture given the new main stand opened for business in December.

Commercial activities were down 67% on 2015-16 but that figure, too, should rise.

Pooley said: "We've got a business within a business. There will be separate incomes and that will be more visible in years to come.

"The remit of the whole development over the next few years is that every side of the stadium builds revenue for us to move forward.

Ebbsfleet United vice-chairman Dean Pooley Picture: Simon Hildrew
Ebbsfleet United vice-chairman Dean Pooley Picture: Simon Hildrew

"We are now sold out commercially around the stadium. Dave Archer has done a fantastic job and all match sponsorships are sold from now until the end of the season.

"We've got full capacity in the new lounges so we're hitting our targets in that sense.

"With the delay in the stand being finished, that's probably why it affected last year's figures because we've ended up crossing over financial years where we should have had it up and running sooner."

The accounts highlight what a big job Pooley faces in balancing the club's financial wellbeing and footballing ambition.

He said: "My job is to have the right people around me. I have to be business-savvy because I can't ask people to do things I don't understand myself.

"But that doesn't detract from the football element - I've just got a few more strings to my bow now.

"It's all about securing Ebbsfleet United Football Club and never to be in the position it was before.

"Thankfully Abdulla saved the club. It was 48 hours from disappearing and although it's a lot of change, I see it as good change because the people of the area will always have their football club. Along the way, there's a little bit of give and take a slight bit of disruption but it's for the greater good. That's the way I see it.

"Abdulla's a sensible businessman and he's a fan at heart. He's completely bought into Ebbsfleet as an area and as a football club.

"He's got a lot of business interests, as people know, and he's already asking me about next year's targets and what Daryl's looking for.

"The enthusiasm is there and he's definitely here for the long run."

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