Money men give warning

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The Independent Online
The fragile state of football's economy was underlined yesterday when a report revealed that an industry with a turnover of pounds 387m could generate a profit of only pounds 12,000 in the 1993/94 season, writes Guy Hodgson.

The report, by the accountants Touche Ross, highlighted several disturbing trends, including a rise of 19 per cent in footballer's wages over the previous season, which is accounting for a increasing proportion of the game's money. Nottingham Forest and Derby County, for example, spent more than 90 per cent of their turnover in pay.

Predictably, Manchester United, who won the Double that season, finished the most financially healthy club, with a pre-tax profit of pounds 10.7m enhanced by a 172 per cent increase in merchandising. Blackburn Rovers, champions the following season, were bottom of the wealth league with a loss of pounds 8.2m.

The report also highlighted the widening rift between the Premiership and the Endsleigh League. More than 60 per cent of football's total income ended in the bank accounts of clubs in the the top division, yielding them an an average operating profit of pounds 1.86m, a rise of 27 per cent. Clubs in the bottom three divisions, meanwhile, had an average loss of pounds 251,000.

Gerry Boon, who heads the Touche Ross football department, said: "There is a danger that clubs in the lower divisions will be unable to support the level of players' wages and salaries unless they develop their off- field activities."