Craig Hemmings released a statement on Thursday night to clear up a few things that Preston North End fans will have felt disgruntled by over the last months. It’s been a rocky start to the season, after a promising summer which saw record season ticket sales and a general good feel among the fans base.
Heading into our first full season under Ryan Lowe, we were hoping to see an attacking brand of football, and to see new signings blossom. Unfortunately, instead we have been starved of goals, and although our defence have stood strong for the majority of games it hasn’t been enough to appease the fans.
A dour 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United last week was the final straw for many. A lot of those season ticket holders feel they have been fooled into buying into a new era at the club when in truth it’s just the same old story. There is nothing to be excited about and we look set for another season of averageness.
Are we asking for too much? Is it wrong for us to dream? Perhaps it’s just a case of having seen practically every other Lancashire club enjoy a degree of success in the last 20 years, and we haven’t had much to shout about.
Craig Hemmings statement was released to try and give some transparency on how the club is run, and to try and dismiss some rumours as well.
The Hemmings family inject £12m of their own money every season
Apparently it costs £24 million to run Preston North End each season. Only half of that is brought in from other sources. “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.“
You can’t deny that is a lot of money for them to pump into the club, and that is just to keep us afloat. Transfer fees these days are very inflated, and it leaves us with a very tight budget to work with. Hemmings also said it is very hard to compete with between three and nine clubs who are receiving parachute payments from the Premier League
The budget is set way before a season between the Hemmings family and the club management
It was stated that the budget is set well in advance of a new season to give the management team time to prepare for any transfer activity. He said that a lot of the transfer business was done very early on, and the club brought in the players they had identified.
In the main though, it felt like we had to bring in two goalkeepers, and in Robbie Brady and Ben Woodburn it seemed like we were just taking chances on free transfers.
He also acknowledged the costs involved in letting players and management go whilst still having time remaining on their contracts. Basically paying for the club’s own mistakes in recruitment. Alex Neil, Frankie McAvoy and players like Josh Harrop were costly to part with.
“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 backroom staff.“
This season’s budget has never changed despite ‘promises’
One of the main things that has annoyed Preston fans is the suggestion early on from Peter Ridsdale that we would match any other club’s offer for Cameron Archer in order to try and get him back on loan. It seemed unlikely he would come back, but it suggested we had the budget to do so. Was that all used on Troy Parrott? It was a bit of an empty promise from Ridsdale, and no significant money was spent anywhere else.
The squad is short up front, and in a crucial right wing-back slot, which is key for how Ryan Lowe plays. How no one was brought in in that position despite the budget remaining the same all summer, and knowing what we have to work with, just doesn’t make sense at all.
A substantial offer was turned down for one of our players in the summer
Hemmings says that that funds would have been freed up if this offer was accepted. He is alluding to the Emil Riis link with Middlesbrough, and the offer was thought to be around £7.5 million. “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.“
He will not allow the club to go into financial difficulty
“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.“
Will not stand in the way of new ownership to take us to the next level
Hemmings alluded to the discussion held with American Chris Kirchner in the past about the possibility of selling the club. Whilst Kirchner’s interest didn’t transpire to be genuine or at least legitimate, Hemmings is open to selling the club to the right person in the future.
“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.”
Ultimately it’s good that Hemmings can come forward and let us know the reasons behind decisions. There’s no magic money pot, but it doesn’t stop us from dreaming. We know we can’t go and splash loads of money on new signings, but plenty of clubs compete without doing that as well.
The majority of fans are grateful for the Hemmings family basically keeping the club going. We could be a lot worse off, but you can also understand why the fans are a bit tired of our situation and Preston North End are in danger of becoming stagnant.
Is there enough at the club to attract the next generation of fans? Or have previous ones been let down too many times?