PLAYER sales and revenue from transfer sell-on clauses helped to cushion Tranmere against operating losses of more than £1.1million last season.
The early summer departures of Calvin Zola to Crewe Alexandra and Steve Davies to Derby County together with a payment triggered by Jason Koumas’s move from West Bromwich Albion to Wigan Athletic, helped Rovers to raise £725,448 in transfer income during 2007-08.
The Wirral club’s annual report for the year ended June 2008 shows that transfer income reduced operating losses of £1,126,337 to a pre-tax figure of £438,429.
That compared to a pre-tax loss of £966,419 for the previous year when incoming transfer fees amounted to just £31,158.
Zola’s move to Crewe raised a fee of £200,000. Davies’s transfer to Derby, settled by a tribunal, saw Tranmere receive an up-front compensation payment of £275,000. A further £250,000 could be payable based on the number of appearances Davies makes for Derby and should the Rams win promotion to the Premier League within two more years, Rovers will earn an additional £200,000.
A sell-on clause negotiated when Tranmere sold Koumas to WBA in 2002 was triggered when Albion transferred the Wales international midfielder to Wigan last summer, in a deal worth £5.3million.
Meanwhile, attendance figures, season-ticket sales and commercial income all fell at Prenton Park during the 2007-08 campaign, compared to the previous year.
Average gates for home games in League One dropped from 6,930 in 2006-07 to 6,535 last season. They are on course to show a steeper fall this season.
The number of season-ticket holders dropped from 3,469 to 3,225 and commercial income for last season dropped by 8% to £1,282,059.
Turnover for the year was steady at just over £3million while operating expenses increased by 1% to £4,236,922.
Chairman Lorraine Rogers said: “Football finances are challenging for most clubs in the Football League and the current economic climate is difficult for most small businesses in the area. We are pleased to be able to report another year of financial stability at the club.”
The accounts show Tranmere owe £5,305,296 in loans and accruals to president and controlling shareholder Peter Johnson. A loan of £4,425,780 has been secured against land owned by the club at Prenton Park and Ingleborough Road since May 2007.
Tranmere’s plans to develop some of that land are moving forward, Rogers said in her chairman’s statement. She reported discussions with Wirral Council over the development plans were at an advanced stage.
Rovers want to build a new training facility on the Wirral – on a new site – with the project to be funded by the sale of the training pitches at Ingleborough Road for development. There are also plans to develop some of the land, currently used as a car park, around Prenton Park.
Rogers said: “We are continuing to work with Wirral Council and the Tranmere Hall Residents Association on development plans. The plans involve new commercial developments on both sites and the development of a new training facility at a new site on the Wirral. This would be used by the first-team, youth team, centre of excellence and the local community.
“Our proposals will provide sporting community benefits to the whole of the Wirral and not just Tranmere Rovers.
“Discussions are at an advanced age with Wirral Council and we look forward to sharing detailed plans later this year with shareholders, supporters and all interested parties.”
Any plans to develop the land at Ingleborough Road and at Prenton Park would have to overcome potentially difficult public planning hurdles with the local authority.
Tranmere’s plans to build more than 100 new homes on the Ingleborough Road site were first revealed by the Daily Post in October 2006.
Tranmere’s annual accounts show no details on wage costs for players and staff at Prenton Park.
The three paid directors, chairman Rogers, chief executive Mick Horton and financial director Richard Hughes received a combined total of £130,517 in emoluments in the year ended June 2000 innate – down from £159,558 previous year.
Rogers reduced her day-to-day commitment at Prenton Park last season, after agreeing to take a new role as non-executive chairman. This followed her appointment to the full-time post of chief executive of the Merseyside Partnership in the summer of 2007.
The TMP is a government – backed body set up to generate investment and tourism in the Merseyside area.