English Premier League side Crystal Palace’s losses of £35.5m (€41.1m/$46.3m) for the 2017-18 season are offset by the financial rewards of staying in the Premier League and the valuable playing assets now in the first-team squad, says the club’s commercial director Barry Webber.
Palace’s are the biggest losses of the 18 Premier League clubs to have so far announced their financial results for the 2017-18 season. The £35.5m pre-tax loss is a turnaround from almost £12m profit in the previous campaign.
However, the 2019-20 season is now all but guaranteed to be the club’s seventh consecutive campaign played in the Premier League. Previous to its promotion in 2013, the club had never played more than three successive seasons in the top flight in its 113-year history.
Palace invested heavily into the first-team during the period in question and, unlike in previous campaigns, did not sell off any of its top players. The gains in the 2016-17 season were driven by almost £35m profit from player sales.
“We talk about £35m loss, but then we look at some of the massive assets in that squad that will more than mitigate that loss quite quickly if the situation was right for all parties involved,” says Webber, speaking exclusively to SportBusiness. “The value that the media are rightly putting on someone like Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who has only been in the team for 14 months – the sky really is the limit for him.
“Our academy also produced Wilfred Zaha and, again, how can you put a value on what Wilf delivers? Keeping hold of these players and strengthening our squad to stay in the Premier League has to be the priority.”
Palace also posted record turnover of £150m for the season, with £121m of that figure generated from the Premier League’s broadcasting rights deal and prize money for the club’s 11th -place finish in 2017-18.
Commercial revenues were up by 16 per cent, to £26.1m. “We’ve taken a department three years ago that is now forecast to triple its profits by the end of the 2019-20 season,” says Webber. “We’re doing big numbers across partners and sponsors and hospitality. Keeping our place in the Premier League has allowed us to consolidate and grow this part of the business. On the big-ticket items, we’ve seen great uplift.”
Gate receipts also rose to almost £11m, with the club operating at 98.5 per cent capacity across the season. Last year, the Eagles received planning permission to add a further 8,300 seats to the main at its Selhurst Park home stadium, a project Webber says is about “future-proofing” the club and encouraging incremental growth.
“One of the reasons for doing the redevelopment is to make sure relegation becomes less of a concern, because the incremental revenue it will generate will allow us to compete further up,” he says. “There’s no big secret to it: if we have 8,000 thousand more fans in the stadium, then we can compete a little bit better, that will release an incremental growth of £10m-£14m, potentially, per annum.”