In response to the publication of the club’s accounts for the 2018-19 season and the current COVID-19 outbreak, club President Wael Al-Qadi has issued the following open letter to supporters…
I just wanted to take this opportunity to write an open letter to you all during these tough times.
Like you, I am following the government advice and staying inside, but despite the isolation, we are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that the club comes out of these tough times in a strong position.
As you all know, my family and I have also recently been through the tragic passing of my Father which has been incredibly tough for us all. Rovers were a passion that we both shared and during my last conversation with him on the evening of the 15th February I told him that we had won and that we are in safe hands. Sadly, two hours later he left us but the memory of that conversation will stay with me forever.
I write today following the release of our most recent set of accounts, which further demonstrate the investment that has been made into the club since we took over in 2016.
The main focus of this investment has been in the first-team squad, with a highly competitive League One budget which has continued to be provided for all managers.
These accounts see a 10% increase in the club's revenue streams, however despite this, due to the levels of investment on the squad, the club has still been running at a significant operating loss.
I understand that many supporters may be concerned about the increasing level of debt, however, I want to reassure them that this position in the current football climate is not unusual. The debt amounting is internal debt so doesn’t affect the day to day running of the club and my commitment to the club and its long term aims remains as strong as ever.
Clearly, however, this is an unsustainable position and over the course of the 19/20 season so far, a series of actions have been taken to substantially reduce the deficit, as will be evident in the next set of accounts, although the financial implications of the current pandemic will no doubt have an effect on this.
As Martyn discussed in his strategic report, it is our policy to move towards a more sustainable business model by increasing revenue streams, obtaining the best value for all goods and services received and to undertake astute work within the transfer market.
Investment has been made in the development of young players, which it is anticipated will produce benefits over the next two to three seasons.
We are also aware that many supporters are requesting better communication from the club and that is something that we have been working on.
The recent club survey and fans forums produced several actions that have been implemented and our CEO Martyn Starnes also answered your questions in his recent Q&A.
Discussions are also continuing regarding the stadium and training ground projects.
I can assure all supporters that this remains my main priority and we are doing all we can to confirm a long-term solution for both projects as soon as is possible.
This challenge is one that the club has battled with for decades, however, I am confident that we are doing all we can to reach a solution that finally helps the club reach its full potential.
You may have seen our guidance on our website of ways in which we can help each other, during these tough times, however, if you haven’t I would recommend that you take a look HERE.
The impacts of this virus will hit all areas of the economy hard and football clubs are no different. We have lost all forecasted ticketing, retail, catering, bars, events and hospitality revenue for an unsustained period.
However, along with our executive team, I am doing all I can to ensure that everyone within the Bristol Rovers family is as secure as possible.
I also wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has already renewed their season ticket. We have been astounded by the level of support with season ticket sales at this time compared to the same period last year! We appreciate that not all supporters will be in a financial position to commit to us in the short-term, so provisions are being made to ensure that nobody misses out.
I also wanted to thank all of our staff for their continued efforts and adaptability in these difficult circumstances.
This club has been built on community spirit and now, more than ever, we need to stick together and pull in the same direction to get through these uncertain times.
Thank you for all of your continued support and we look forward to seeing you all back at the Mem as soon as is safe.