Raith on ‘firmer’ financial ground

Stark's Park, Kirkcaldy, home of Raith Rovers F.C.
Stark's Park, Kirkcaldy, home of Raith Rovers F.C.

Raith Rovers directors painted the rosiest financial picture at Stark’s Park for many a year at the annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday night.

The club presented its annual accounts for the year to June 2013, which showed a profit of £81,350 – the first time the club has returned a profit since the formation of New Raith Rovers in 2005.

In a further financial boost, due to converting loans into shares, the club’s total liability has dropped from £1.43m in 2011 to £605,000 in 2013.

And with most of the remaining figure considered to be “internal debt” the actual debt of the club to external parties was said to be in region of just £160,000.

It is a remarkable transformation for a club that held an open meeting with fans in September 2011 where directors warned that finances were perilous and the football model unsustainable.

The club’s financial director, Alan Young, told the meeting that cost-cutting, combined with good cup runs and an improved financial package in the newly formed SPFL, has put the club on ‘firmer ground’.

“Cost are under control,” he said, which is in contrast to the hardship of previous years that resulted in directors personally interevening to prevent administration.

“A big change in the business model has made things easier to control,” Mr Young explained.

“There’s no bank facility, all creditors are within agreed payment terms and all taxes are up to date. Things are moving forward but there’s still a long way to go.”

A continuing drain on the football club, it was revealed, is the stadium with Stark’s Park’s 90-year-old main stand requiring constant maintenance.

Eric Drysdale, the club’s chief executive, explained that £200,000 has been spent on stadium and pitch repairs over the last four to five years, adding: “That’s a lot of money for club of our size.”

On the subject of the stadium, it was also revealed that the club is currently in negotiations with Stark’s Park’s owner, Thailand-based businessman John Sim, over rental payments.

Mr Sim bought the stadium in 2005 from West City Developments as part of the package which allowed New Raith Rovers to take over the club.

Rovers have been paying £4000 per month in rent since this takeover, but the original lease expired in August 2013 and the club has yet to reach an agreement with Mr Sim over the terms of its renewal.

The relationship between the board of the football club and Mr Sim soured after the exiled shareholder removed its three representatives - Turnbull Hutton, Mario Caira and then supporters director Alex Condie - from the board of Stark’s Park Properties in 2008.