So here’s a good way to fill the gap between my second season in charge of Hapoel Ashkelon FC and the next – announce a loss. Not just a small loss, either: one that equates to about 20% of turnover.
This, despite my efforts. I wrote, when the board set the budget for last year, that they were being reckless. If fans were real fans of the club, they’d spot this kind of thing: but no, they’re all short-termists, wanting to blow whatever money the club can lay its hands on.
I’ve always taken care to stay well under budget. At present, we’re about 60% under the wage budget. Since the departure of Galvan, we’ve have only one player earning over £100k p.a. I expect the wage bill to rise a little, but will aim to keep it at 50%.
I’ve always kept the staffing well within the permitted allocation too. I’ve just allowed the contracts of one physio and a sport scientist lapse. That takes us to 10 members of staff less than the allocation permits. Economies have come from not employing: a Director of Football; a physio (we already have three including the head physio); a sport scientist (already have a Head of Sport Science); a data analyst (already have a Chief Analyst); and U19 staff (manager; assistant manager; three coaches; and a physio).
I’ve just sold Reef Meesika for £205k (the highest fee received to date). That makes me a net earner in terms of transfer fees.
So I’m beginning to resent having to manage the board. I’m not paid to be the Financial Director.
ITRW my generation is being sandwiched: on the one hand, having to look after offspring who can’t afford to save for pensions or house deposits and, on the other, parents who are typically living longer and needing greater assistance. I come to FM to get away from that kind of thing, not to have it replicated. Yet here I am, having to manage not only player-children but also director-parents.
Imagine if I’d used anything like the entire budget for wages and transfers last year! The club would be heading towards administration.
So far I’ve avoided the nightmare situation that (in parallel universe known as FM16) led me to retire from African All Stars. There I got through the season by spending only about 60% of the budget; my reward was a huge budgetary cut, such that I had to reduce expenditure by 50%, whilst having a more demanding expectation placed upon me. When, having muddled through that, the board tried the same trick again, I decided that, nice though the pinotage was, South Africa was a benighted place and so I packed my bags.
It’s not that bad here, but the expectation has become a little more onerous (from ‘fighting bravely’ against relegation to ‘avoiding’ it) and the budget has remained unaltered. Is this the start of a squeeze?
And what am I supposed to do if I see a really good player who we can supposedly afford, within the budget the muddle-headed board have given me, but who will in reality strain our finances?
Actually I’m in the mood to buy big, come what may: it’s just that our scouts seem incapable of unearthing anyone with star potential.