Premier League

Liverpool announces big debt rise

Liverpool's debt has risen by a third to more than $130 million.
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Liverpool's debt rose by a third to more than $130 million after spending on players who have failed to re-establish the club as a power in England or Europe.

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Liverpool is seventh in the Premier League and no closer to returning to the lucrative Champions League it last played in during the 2009-10 season.

Accounts released Monday showed that Liverpool's debt rose to 87.2 million pounds (about $131 million) between Aug. 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012.

Liverpool reported a loss of 40.5 million pounds (about $61 million) in the accounts covering a 10-month period, in line with the losses in the previous full financial year.

However, managing director Ian Ayre played down the significance of a rise in debt levels.

"It's definitely not something I believe anyone should be worried or concerned about. It is seasonal - our debt goes up and down," he told the Liverpool Echo. "We have money to pay out and money coming in, just like any business. The difference in football is some of the swings are significant, so if you look at player trading, we may need to make investments as we do in the summer before our key revenues come in: big sponsorships cheques, big ticket revenues, all the media revenues etc.

"You come to Christmas when you maybe have less revenue coming in but you have got money that needs to go out, both on playing deals that you are doing at the time but also on historic player deals.

"Debt has increased but I think it's a factor of doing business in the time and place we are. We need to continue to improve our squad and what a lot of people won't relate to perhaps is that when you are improving your squad and making that investment, you have knock-on costs that will create debt in the short term.

"But hopefully in the long term we'll improve our position and we are very aware of that. We will continue to invest in the squad - I think that is what our fans would expect. But the most important thing is that we do it prudently and in a sustainable way that is affordable."

Other contributing factors to the increase in debt were player instalment payments plus exceptional payments of just over £9.5million - relating to matters such as the stadium project, general restructuring and pay-offs to senior employees who left the club.

"We see a big charge within the accounts for amortisation (depreciation in value) of players that have been disposed of within the period that perhaps came in on a higher cost," added Ayre. "We've made losses as a result of selling them but at the same time we've improved our longer-term position in terms of our wage bill by reducing the wages for those particular contracts. We've in the same period refinanced our lending facilities, which gives us ability for working capital to operate as a business."

Since the end of the accounts reporting period, owners Fenway Sports Group have injected £46.8million into the club via a non interest-bearing inter-company loan while credit facilities were also refinanced with three major banks, providing £120million of facilities for three years.

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