Fulham slashed losses in their second year in the English Premier League and said on Wednesday measures were in place to ensure financial stability before too long.
Pre-tax losses fell to £20.8 million in the year to June 2003 from £33.6 million the previous year, while turnover rose five percent to £34.5 million as a result of increased revenues from broadcasting, the club said.
‘Despite these significant improvements it is clear that this level of loss cannot be sustained in the long term,’ said chairman Mohamed Al Fayed in a statement.
‘However, the club is addressing these issues and has put a number of measures in place to ensure that the business will become financially stable before too long.
Fulham’s costs soared in their first year in the top flight after spending heavily on players but Al Fayed, owner of west London luxury department store Harrods, has since embarked on a regime of budgetary control.
He pulled the plug on a scheme to redevelop Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground after costs soared to over £100m and, after pressure from fans, agreed to take the club back to its original home after two years sharing Loftus Road with second division Queen’s Park Rangers.
A difficult time at the end of last season ended with Jean Tigana being ousted as manager and former player Chris Coleman taking over to help the club finish the season in 14th place.
Under Coleman’s leadership this season the team have performed well, with notable results including a 3-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford in October and holding the champions 1-1 at home in February.
Fulham also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup but they were then knocked out by United.
Fulham are ninth in the league but only three points adrift of a UEFA Cup place.
Chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed said in a statement:
Our second season in the FA Premier League was to prove an even bigger challenge to the Club than the first. The Club qualified for a UEFA Cup place for the first time in its history following victory in the Intertoto Cup competition.
‘But the gruelling schedule of fixtures which had resulted in early- season success began to take its toll as the campaign wore on and, in the second half of the season, the Club found itself being drawn into a relegation battle. The era of the Manager Jean Tigana had to end and with five games remaining Chris Coleman was appointed as Caretaker-Manager, a crucial move as under his leadership the team recorded three wins and a draw, eventually finishing the season in 14th position.
‘Despite these significant improvements it is clear that this level of loss cannot be sustained in the long term. However the Club is addressing these issues and has put a number of measures in place to ensure that the business will become financially stable before too long. I am confident that results for the current financial year will show an even more significant improvement.
‘We are not simply reducing costs but also steadily increasing revenues, and the imminent return to Craven Cottage, providing as it does, a greater seating capacity to that of Loftus Road will be key to achieving this aim. Enhanced corporate facilities on site will add to the revenue opportunities that are integral to the business plan and continued on-pitch success is of course a major factor.
‘The dedicated support of our fanbase is also vital for our continued success and with a return to Craven Cottage I am hopeful that our supporters, who are the lifeblood of the Club, will demonstrate their loyalty by ensuring that the stadium is filled to capacity at each game next season. I have honoured my commitment to take the Club back to Craven Cottage and now we need the fans to show their support at this most crucial time.’