January 27, 2022 9.50 am This story is over 29 months old

Lincoln City report £1.4m net loss in annual accounts – but club remain positive despite COVID struggle

Many of the figures this year have been hit by the pandemic

By Local Democracy Reporter

Lincoln City has released its annual accounts for the financial year ending June 2021, recording a net less of £1.4 million due to the financial strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Imps annual account report showed that both income and expenses were lower as a result of the pandemic, despite the success on the pitch for the club.

Lincoln City reached the League One play-off final in the 2020/21 season, losing at Wembley to Blackpool which has resulted in another campaign at this level, and prompted the sales of key players Jorge Grant and Tayo Edun to Championship clubs last summer.

It wasn’t to be for the Imps at Wembley.

Turnover decreased from £6.55 million in 2019/20 to £5.22 million for 2020/21, with the figures being different primarily due to the payout package of the Cowley brothers moving to Huddersfield at the start of the 2019/20 season.

Despite a reduction in central distributions by £52,000, Lincoln City did receive £813,000 as part of a rescue package grant distributed by the Premier League throughout Leagues One and Two.

These funds helped combat the struggles lower league clubs faced throughout 2020, as the entire regular season was played behind closed doors, meaning fans could not attend matches and gate revenue was dramatically affected.

By comparison, Championship team Bristol City reported a £38.4 million financial loss for that year alone.

In recent years, the LNER Stadium has seen attendance figures of around 9,000, so the taking away of matchday revenue had a significant impact on the club’s accounts.

The Imps were among the top sides in the division for iFollow streaming figures through the season, but as a result of sale receipts for streaming being lower than physical match ticket sales, finances were hit.

The Lincoln squad after their famous play-off semi-final victory against Sunderland. | Photo: LCFC

At Lincoln City there are an average of just over two season ticket holders per household, so viewing figures on iFollow were around a third of the attendances at Sincil Bank, due to families paying £10 to stream the game together.

However, the decline in turnover was offset in some capacity by the decrease in activity at the stadium on a day-to-day basis, along with the reduced running costs on a matchday when games are played behind closed doors.

Cash flow was handed a boost by the support of loyal season ticket holders, many of whom opted to keep their money within the club despite not being able to watch matches live.

900 fans’ names were stitched onto the club’s new third kit this season, as a thank you to those who financially supported the club through the pandemic by using their season ticket money to buy Ultimate Imps Raffle tickets, as well as club items and shares.

The club managed to retain as many staff members as possible thanks to the COVID-19 job retention scheme and the business rate grant organised by central government.

Harvey Jabara (left) has become a shareholder in the club, and Landon Donovan (right) will join as strategic advisor. | Photo: Lincoln City Football Club

Lincoln City’s financial position was also boosted in 2021 by the welcoming of American investors the Jabara family, who took on a 9% stake in the football club in June last year.

Directors and key investors contributed £1.28 million for shares through Lincoln City Holdings, while a further £900,000 investment into the club stayed in the Holdings bank account at the end of the financial year.

Lincoln City Chairman Clive Nates. Photo: Lincoln City Football​ Club

Imps chairman Clive Nates said: “We began the financial year with extreme uncertainty facing the club and the country. Although the primary objective of the club was to survive the severe negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board decided to push ahead with projects that would benefit the club in the longer term.

“As such, we saw the installation of a fibre sand pitch together with the renovation of the other training pitches at the Elite Performance Centre as well as further investment into the Academy.

“Despite the uncertain conditions and a significantly reduced pro budget to work with in the summer transfer window the recruitment team was able to put together an exciting young squad.”