The club can confirm that, earlier this week, the audited accounts for the year ending 30th June 2021 were completed and filed at Companies House.
The 2020/21 year was arguably the most challenging in the club’s history and the main focus was survival, given the fact that we faced the prospect of no supporters and limited revenue streams. To that end, we are pleased to reduce our operating loss by almost £1,000,000 from the previous financial year.
Despite the uncertainties that the financial year produced and the loss of the final fixtures of the season, all employees received their full wage throughout the pandemic.
During the 2020/21 season, we set out the strategic objectives that continue to run through everything we do as a football club. These are as follows:
1. Infrastructure improvements – we were delighted to complete the first phase of our new multi-million pound training facility, The Quarters, during the course of the season. This site has improved the professionalism of the football operation and I have no doubt the results of this will be felt on the pitch.
2. Sustainability – operating sustainably became even more unattainable, given the huge impact on our revenue streams caused by the pandemic. Despite the generosity of many supporters who opted to donate their season ticket money to the club and the benefits gained from the furlough scheme, the only way that we were able to get through this difficult period was with the continued financial support of our owner, Wael Al Qadi.
3. Youth – throughout the 2020/21 season, we continued to see the progression of the academy and a number of prospects broke through into the first team, including Jed Ward - who also featured for England at U18 level. Alfie Kilgour also continued to play a key role within the first team, making 35 league appearances, and Tom Mehew scored twice in his two Papa John’s Trophy appearances. Overall, we achieved 84 first-team appearances from academy graduates in the first team over the course of the season. In addition, Kyrie Pierre and Brad Burrows were both sold to Aston Villa for significant six-figure sums.
4. Develop the fanbase – despite playing the season behind closed doors, we were delighted to sell more than 3,400 season tickets. We were also supported by fans watching the matches from home, via iFollow. Over the course of the season, we sold 68,507 subscriptions, totalling £693,505 in gross revenue.
We were also delighted to be named as the ‘most improved club’ in the Fan Engagement Index in 2021, with a gain of 65 places from the previous season's position. Split into the categories of dialogue, governance and transparency, Rovers made significant improvements across the board and the previous year’s score of 30 was smashed by a much-improved 110 Index rating for 2021. A concerted effort was made throughout the pandemic to engage further with supporters, particularly with the stands being empty for the entire duration of the season.
5. Community – throughout the pandemic, our work in conjunction with our Community Trust was invaluable. The club worked closely to support the fantastic work of the Trust, aiding in projects such as garden visits by players, letters to elderly fans by club personnel and providing essential supplies to vulnerable supporters. The collaborative effort between the football club and Bristol Rovers Community Trust in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was recognised with a nomination at the 2021 Football Business Awards. The work saw the partnership nominated in the category of ‘Best Covid 19 Community Response - Non-Premier League’ in the Football Business Awards 2021.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the football club has also worked closely with our charity partners, Above and Beyond, donating 1,000 tickets to NHS staff as a sign of gratitude for the work they have done to keep the country safe.
6. Continual Improvement – the aim of the club going into the pandemic was that we wanted to come out of it stronger than we went in. Sadly, that didn’t materialise on the pitch, but it feels like the benefits of that reset are now being felt with improvements across all departments.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic that swept across the world and the accompanying absence of ordinary revenues, operating losses fell by £959K year-on-year, which was a positive outcome given the challenges faced.
Going through tough times reminds us of what we have, and everyone at the club is incredibly grateful and thankful for the continued support of our fanbase.
Furthermore, we wouldn’t have been able to continue through the year without the unbelievable dedication and support of all of our staff, who have continued to innovate and drive standards to help us work towards reaching our potential.
Finally, operating at the level we do currently is only possible due to the continued investment of our owner, Wael Al Qadi. In a further demonstration of support, Wael is delighted to confirm that conversations are already underway to convert a further £3,500,000 of club debt to equity, limiting the club debt and further safeguarding our future.
The full accounts will be visible on Companies House shortly.