Posted on 25/02/2019
CHAPTER 3 Where’s the money gone, Norman?
Let us be clear from the start – the purpose of this article is not to make any accusations or allegations but simply to ask questions of the owner which we hope he will
be able to answer honestly.
• Fans have expressed concern that during the last two years, since January 2017, Port Vale has received considerable income in transfer fees, sell-on clauses and other income which will not have been budgeted for by the club. Sadly, a very limited portion of this income seems to have been re-invested in the team. Let us consider what has gone on.
• In January 2017 the club sold Jak Alnwick to Rangers for a reported £250,000 which was the buyout clause in his contract. At the same time Anthony Grant joined Peterborough for a fee reported to be £100,000. Alnwick and Grant were two of the highest paid players in the squad so not only were the incoming fees added to the club’s coffers but also half a season’s worth of their considerable salaries was saved. During the same transfer window the club signed Chris Eagles, Danny Pugh and Scott Tanser on short term contracts (no fees being reported for either) and a number of loanees. Three out of contract players were added in March.
• The accounts for the year ending June 2017 show a reduction in the Director’s Loan Account of £217,592. Can we assume, therefore, that a portion of the transfer income and wage savings went to reducing the DLA?
• In January 2018 Jordan Hugill was transferred from Preston to West Ham with Vale receiving a reported sell on fee of £1.8 million. It seems that this payment was to be made in three tranches of £600,000, the first being paid at the time of the transfer. The accounts for the year ending June 2018 are due to be filed at Companies House no later than the end of next month (March). We assume a commensurate reduction in the DLA will be shown then as a result of this windfall. Certainly very little of the Hugill money appears to have been spent on the squad in that window with only Luke Hannant commanding a small fee when he was signed from Gateshead. Also, there appears to have been no increase in the playing budget this year which would have accounted for part of the Hugill bonus.
• Since the summer of 2018 Vale has received a number of further windfalls which would clearly not have been in the pre-season budget. The FA Cup tie against Sunderland saw a television fee of £75,000 being paid to the club in addition to further payments from the TV company in relation to the game. Increased sponsorship from the game together with a higher than expected attendance for a first round tie would imply that net income in excess of £100,000 was generated by that fixture.
• The Checkatrade Trophy has also proved very lucrative for the club this season. The income from a large attendance for the tie against our neighbours may have been reduced by policing and repair costs but the £110,000 in total prize money was a welcome addition to the funds. In January the second tranche of the Hugill money was due - £600,000 – with a similar amount guaranteed next January.
• In addition to all of the income streams mentioned above, a number of Academy players have been sold to higher division clubs for significant undisclosed fees. The issue of exclusivity payments will be addressed in Chapter 4.
• It would be interesting if Mr Smurthwaite would give the fans an update on the current state of his loan account. In view of what has been outlined above, it would be surprising if it hasn’t been considerably reduced in the last twelve months. It would also be surprising if such a reduction has not had a significant effect on the price he would now demand for the sale of the club.
We look forward to hearing from you on this matter, Mr Smurthwaite.