Torquay United posted a near-£250,000 loss last season, more than double the previous year, and that was after a windfall from the sale of players.
The latest balance-sheet figures reveal that United, who just stayed up under Alan Knill after a problem-filled year which included manager Martin Ling’s mid-season illness, ended the 2012-2013 financial year with a deficit of £246,402. That was up from a £111,000 loss the previous season.
The sales of goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik to Peterborough United, defender Mark Ellis to Crewe Alexandra and midfielder Eunan O’Kane to AFC Bournemouth, all in the summer of 2012, helped to push the profit on “disposal of fixed assets” up to £507,000.
One problem was a drop in income (turnover), down ten per cent from £2,575,685 to £2,299,840.
Torquay had reached the League Two play-offs under Ling in 2012 and also, after beating Chesterfield away, earned a useful share of a second-round FA Cup-tie at Sheffield United. But they were knocked out in the first round of all three cup competitions last season, going out of the FA Cup at home to Harrogate Town. They have done the same thing this season.
United, who have made major investments in the Plainmoor ground and the club’s infrastructure since the current board took over in 2007, have now suffered significant losses in five of the past six years. The exception was 2010-11, when they reached the League Two play-off final and made £100,000 profit.
United have launched a “Kids 4 Free” offer for Saturday’s League Two home game against Fleetwood Town in an effort to crank up the attendance and the atmosphere as the Gulls look to avoid relegation.
Torquay will go into the match still seven points adrift of safety with 13 games to go, in the wake of their lowest gate of the season (1,583) for last Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Burton Albion.
“There may have been only 1,500 there, but they got behind the team and the atmosphere was good against Burton, so we want to get as many here as possible against Fleetwood,” said manager Chris Hargreaves. “It’s another huge game for us. Everyone knows what’s at stake and what we have to do.”
Operations manager Tim Herbert said: “All Under-12s will be admitted free to any part of the ground, as long as they are accompanied by an adult. The offer is also available for Fleetwood fans.”