THERE WAS some encouraging news for Rangers in their 2018-19 financial results, but the figures also revealed just how far the club is behind “old firm” rivals Celtic.
Rangers made a loss of £ 11.3 million despite revenues climbing by 63% to £ 53.2 million, boosted by a lengthy involvement in the Europa League. Chairman David King said the financial year had been positive, although the club is still reliant on cash from shareholders – as witnessed by £ 33.8 million of “soft” loans being converted to shares. Furthermore, the club will need a further injection of £ 10 million to meet its liabilities in 2019-20. As at June 30, the club was holding just £ 1 million in cash.
Nevertheless, as Rangers continue to rebuild, King was very positive: “Our Club has the highest expectations within the economic sphere that we operate and this requires the appropriate strategy, resources and operational capability. For the first time in many years we have all three of these at every level within the Club.”
Revenues grew for the fourth consecutive season – they have more than trebled in that timeframe as Rangers worked their way through the divisions after their demotion in 2012.
Gate receipts at Ibrox Park climbed by 39% to around £ 32 million, while broadcasting was up by 22% to £ 4.6 million. Commercial income saw a sevenfold increase to almost £ 4 million and UEFA income totalled £ 6.4 million, up from £ 650,000. Rangers, like many clubs of their size and status, have to improve their player trading capabilities. At the moment, player sales contribute around 7% of income. A healthier figure would be in excess of 25%. Ross Wilson has recently joined the club from Southampton as Sporting Director. Player trading will figure high on his list of priorities. Southampton have had a good record of maximising their playing resources over the past five years.
Rangers have yet to make a profit since the full extent of their financial problems were revealed, although the £ 11.3 million loss was lower than 2017-18 when the club lost £ 13.2 million. While revenues rose, expenses, at £ 58.2 million, were 49% higher largely due to wages and the costs associated with participation in European competition. Rangers’ total staff costs were £ 34.5 million of which £ 23 million were allocated to players’ wages. The club’s wage to revenue ratio is 43%.
Rangers’ fans have stood by the club in recent years and in 2018-19, season ticket sales were at record levels, 45,500 were sold, generating £ 16.1 million of income. The average cost of a ticket was £ 355.
Rangers finished second in the Scottish Premiership, finishing nine points behind Celtic. Two years earlier, the differential between the two clubs was 39 points. But while one gap appears to be closing, the financial gulf between the two clubs is substantial.
Celtic’s results were announced in September and showed a pre-tax profit of £ 11.3 million from revenues of £ 83.4 million. Celtic, of course, have enjoyed a period of dominance in Scotland and regular European football. This means Celtic can pay more than double the amount Rangers can allocate to player wages.
Rangers’ matchday income is healthy compared to Europe’s top clubs, the average attendance of 49,500 generating higher revenues than clubs like Everton and comparable levels to Italian giants Inter. TV income is far lower than the amounts earned by clubs from the big five European leagues, a reflection of the current status of Scottish football rather than Rangers’ historic status.
This season, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers are level on points with Celtic and have made a good start to their Europa League group, which includes Young Boys of Bern, Porto and Feyenoord. They topped the league for one week, but as ever, Celtic are now leading the way – on and off the pitch.