BARNSLEY pulled off an excellent victory in their last League One fixture, a rousing 4-1 victory against Derby County at Oakwell, strengthening their bid for a play-off berth. They’re currently on a seven-game unbeaten run and have a six-point margin (and game in hand) over seventh-placed Wycombe.
The club has just announced its financial figures for the 2021-22 season, a campaign in which they were relegated from the Championship with just 30 points, just a year after reaching the play-offs. They admitted relegation was the consequence of a summer of bad decision-making in 2021.
The report reveals a pre-tax loss of £ 7 million, an increase on 2020-21’s deficit of £ 4.3 million. Barnsley’s revenues went up by 20% to £ 15 million thanks to increased matchday income (+300%) as crowds returned to Oakwell and growth in commercial earnings (+39%).
Attendances in 2021-22 averaged 13,263 but in 2022-23, they have declined by around 20% to 10,302 per home game. The Derby game was watched by more than 17,000 people, their biggest crowd in three years.
Barnsley’s wage bill went down to £ 13.1 million from £ 14.4 million in 2021-22, which represented 87% of income compared to the very unhealthy 115% in 2020-21. The club’s owners launched a £ 1 million equity rights issue and since the year-end (May 31) has raised an additional £ 5.6 million.
Barnsley are owned by BFC Investment Company, a Hong-Kong based entity. Their shareholders are Neerav Parekh (35%), Chien Lee (31.25%) and the Cryne Family (20%) as well as Pacific Media Group, who have a small stake in the club. Chinese-American businessman Chien Lee has stakes in multiple clubs, including Thun (Switzerland), KV Oostende (Belgium), Kaiserslautern (Germany), Nancy (France), Esbjerg (Denmark) and Den Bosche (Netherlands). Lee is a big advocate of the Moneyball system increasingly favoured by small-to-medium sized clubs as a way to implement good value team-building processes.
The win against Derby County meant Barnsley have won 12 of their last 16 league games, which is promotion form by any standards. They haven’t given up on winning an automatic place even though they are nine points away from second-placed Plymouth. They do have two games in hand, though. Barnsley will play a number of the promotion-chasers over the next month, which should give a good indication of where they stand in the scheme of things. These include home games against leaders Sheffield Wednesday (March 21), Plymouth (March 11) and Ipswich Town (March 25). But Barnsley are confident at the moment and they have some eye-catching players such as Herbie Kane, James Norwood and Adam Phillips.
The Tykes are aiming for a quick return to the Championship, but going beyond that may be a tall order. League One has a number of big name clubs that are vying for football at a higher level, such as Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town. Barnsley have tasted life in the Premier, they had a single season in the top flight in 1997-98, but is the Yorkshire town big enough to host Premier football again? A lot has changed since they were last there.