Craig Hemmings has provided the following update for supporters:
As we go into the International Break we are also fast approaching the first anniversary of the passing of Mr Hemmings.
We are aware of our supporters desire for an update on a number of issues within the club so I thought that it would be opportune to bring everybody up to date on a number of key topics.
The budget for each football season is set between the Hemmings family and the management of PNE. The budget is agreed well in advance of a new season beginning to allow the executives in charge of day to day operations the ability to plan well in advance.
In preparing this season’s budget it was acknowledged that we had been carrying too many players last season and we had some overhang from the costs associated with changes to the football management team and back room staff. Covid had also put an added strain on the amount of money that we had been putting in just to keep the club going.
For this season, a budget was set and the club moved early in the transfer market bringing in the players that the football management team had identified. We also took the opportunity to move some players on to other clubs that were still under contract, but the manager felt would have no part to play, and some contracts were terminated early. Both of these cost us money to finalise.
At no time since this season’s budget was finalised has the budget been changed.
Whilst it is acknowledged that the thrill of transfer deadline day signings has become an expectation, doing your business early, in the main, gets the players you want and at the right price. It is no secret that we would have ideally liked one or two more players and indeed we turned down a substantial offer from one of our rivals for one of our players which, had we taken, would have freed up more funds. The reason that we rejected this offer was that the manager did not feel that there were players that we could get that would have made us stronger had we taken the money on offer.
Once the budget has been set it is the football management, working with the PNE Executive team, who decide how to spend the money.
There is a clear determination to build a squad that can compete at the top end of the Championship and ultimately deliver promotion. In reality this doesn’t happen in one window and it may take Ryan and his team two or three windows before he is settled on his ideal squad.
Would the football management team and the executive want to have a bigger budget? I’m sure that they would but to continually increase the financial deficit that the Hemmings family face is not an option. Other clubs have gone down that route and fallen into financial difficulty, including administration. We will not allow that.
Whilst this is a conscious decision I would however like to dispel the myth that Mr Hemmings left instructions to reduce, fade out or stop funding the Club. I first attended games at Deepdale with my father in the early 1970s. My brothers and sister and I are regulars at every home game and I attend the majority of away games. We hope to do so for many years to come whether as owners or just fans.
Premier League and Parachute Payments
Having commented on our own budget process it is worth a comment about the bigger picture.
The way that central media monies are paid creates massive challenges for those of us in the Championship trying to compete. It costs about £24 million pounds each year to keep us going. Towards this we receive approximately £2.3m from season tickets and a further £7.3m in total from the EFL and Premier League. After other income streams, that leaves my family with an annual shortfall of around £12m which we have to put into the club each season.
At any moment in time there are between three and nine clubs that have ‘Parachute’ Payments having been in the Premier League. As well as receiving not less than £105m for being in the Premier League in any one season, the relegated Clubs then receive up to a further £95m paid over three years. It is against this back drop that we are trying to put a team together to compete and of course there are quite a number of Championship Clubs whose income far exceeds ours that are similarly trying to beat us to promotion.
There are currently intense discussions taking place between the Government, FA, Premier League and EFL in an attempt to get a ‘fairer’ distribution of monies throughout the English football pyramid system (PL plus the three EFL Leagues) so that the disparity between those with and without parachute payments can be smoothed and give us all a greater share of the monies in the game.
Peter Ridsdale who is a Director of PNE was elected last year by the other Championship clubs to a seat on the EFL Board (and is now also a member of The Professional Game Board (PGB) which is the FA, PL and EFL) and he is working with his EFL colleagues to try to find a workable solution. It is extremely valuable having one of our directors around that table and with Peter’s experience in football over many years, including having previously been in the PL and a board director of the FA, we hope that such experience will contribute to a solution on redistribution being found in the very near future.
People often comment upon our Academy and its relative success or failure in bringing through young players for our first team squad.
There are four categories of Academy and ours is grade three.. Grade one is reserved for those either in the Premier League or who have been there and requires millions of pounds to be put into those academies each season. We aspire to move up to grade two but for this to happen, as a minimum, we would need to have an acceptable standard of an all weather indoor facility. There isn’t one anywhere in Preston but we are in discussions to see whether along with other sporting bodies in the city this may be something that we could build.
Our Academy under Nick Harrison continues to do an outstanding job and up to eleven academy graduates are currently beneficiaries of professional contracts with us. Some of these players are currently getting experience of first team football out on loan and four of them recently experienced first team action with us in the early rounds of the Carabao Cup.
For the Academy graduates to stand a chance of thriving in a first team environment you need a football management team who are prepared to give them their chance. Thankfully with Ryan, Mike Marsh and Paul Gallagher we have a manager and coaches that are prepared to do so.
Deepdale and Euxton Training Ground
Whilst some feel that facilities are less important than the quality of the playing squad, it is imperative in attracting and retaining the right players that our facilities are good. Deepdale has been rebuilt into a modern stadium which would grace Premier League football and our Academy under 18s moved from UCLAN to their own facility at Springfields.
A couple of years ago we were able to buy the training ground at Euxton, previously the home of both Bolton and Wigan and with appropriate investment since its acquisition, Euxton is a facility that any top football club would be proud to own.
At times in football there is always a vocal minority who however stable the ownership, seek the next wealthy owner with a bigger chequebook.
Whilst I was born and brought up in Preston and I am proud of the state of the club under my family’s custodianship, we will never stand in the way if anyone approaches us and can demonstrate the financial resources to take us to the next step. Ownership change can be a force for good and sometimes not so but only time will tell. Earlier this year we held discussions with a party that claimed that they had the ability to buy and invest to take the club forward.
Luckily we were able to determine soon enough that in this case it would not have worked. When and if the next interested party come along, we will work with them and if it can be demonstrated that they indeed are able to move the club forward we will be the first to stand aside and wish them the best for the future.
This note was meant to explain, reassure and demonstrate that we hear what is being said. I would like to thank each and every one of our supporters for investing in what has been a record number of season tickets sold and the attendances so far this season. Other areas that are being raised by our supporters representatives including kit supply, retail store, fan zone and catering are being addressed and there will be a series of further announcements shortly.
Whilst not everyone will agree or necessarily be happy with what I’ve set out, I can confirm that so long as my family own PNE we will continue to invest and support to the tune of millions of pounds each season. We do have a clear strategy and vision for the club and once again I reiterate that when the next big cheque book comes along we will be the first to wish them well.
Thank you for your support.
September 22nd 2022