Financial experts welcomed
COMMERCIAL activity and gate receipts now amount to 90% of Ipswich Town's revenue, compared with 40% when they were in the Premiership.Andrew Goulbourn, the man responsible for overseeing the swing, and finance director Anna Hughes were last night confirmed as the two new additions to the board at Portman Road.
By Derek Davis
COMMERCIAL activity and gate receipts now amount to 90% of Ipswich Town's revenue, compared with 40% when they were in the Premiership.
Andrew Goulbourn, the man responsible for overseeing the swing, and finance director Anna Hughes were last night confirmed as the two new additions to the board at Portman Road.
The former Saatchi and Saatchi communications director, who also worked for Omnicom, took over from Paul Clouting in August 2004 and has to plan without the benefit of Premiership football, and parachute money.
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He said: “It is a natural progression for me and a reflection of the reality of football clubs' increasing importance of off-field activities.
“About half our revenue comes from commercial activities, 40% gate and 10% television.
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“In the Premiership, it was 60% television and 20% commercial, with 20% gate. Now we have no parachute, so we rely even more on commercial activities, which are so diverse although they are lumped together, such as concerts, retail, lottery and so forth.”Hughes may not be able to discuss in depth the merits, or otherwise, of the fashionable 4-5-1 system but is a dab hand at making ends meet and making sure the Blues do not find themselves in the red once again.
Hughes, a chartered accountant who qualified with KPMG, used to work as an independent consultant at the Tate Modern and the British Museum, so knows the importance of reinvesting the money generated by ticket-paying customers.
And, while she may be more comfortable with a calculator than a team sheet, Hughes is enjoying her new environment
She said: “It has been quite challenging, as I have had quite a lot to learn about football. There is always the question of making sure we have enough money to pay our way and keep things going.
“But it is not a moment-by- moment challenge because we keep the club on a stable financial footing.
“It is different working for a football club because commercial businesses are there to make a profit and here we are to break even and get into the Premiership, where we can make a profit.
“It is about assisting the football and, like in the public sector organisations where I have experience, it is not to make a profit but to fulfil the need of a certain audience, so there is a similarity. I'm used to that and I quite enjoy that.”
Goulbourn is a lifelong Blues supporter but his appointment is based purely on his business merits. Town chairman David Sheepshanks welcomed the two executives to the board of directors and explained they were appointed to provide a better balance between those who invested
He said: “You do not accept the burden of a directorship in the modern day, as Anna and Andrew are, lightly.
“The existing board may all be fans, and the club gains advantage from that in many respects, but we are all very aware of the onerous responsibilities that brings and you cannot allow your fanhood to over-rule doing the right thing.
“On any board, you have a can-do attitude but must have appropriate balance, with people who are risk- averse, and no more so than in your finance director. You have to rely on your finance director to argue coherently the risk-averse position and the board must take due note of that.
“We have seven fans on the board, eight if you include Andrew as well.
“Derek [Bowden] and Anna are historically not fans, although that doesn't mean to say they are not terribly supportive, but they look at things with a greater detachment.”
Hughes and Goulbourn join Sheepshanks, chief executive Bowden, John Kerr, Richard Moore, Philip Hope-Cobbold, Kevin Beeston and Holly Bellingham on the Blues' board but there is still space for the right person, if they have the right sort of investment.
Sheepshanks said: “There is always room for someone else and we continue to look for major capital investment and in that even there is room to manouvre.”
He also conceded the announcement would not have any major impact on the running of the club from a supporters' perspective.
Sheepshanks added: “We are making the changes today because they are the right changes at the right time.
“It will make little difference to the average fan but we are formalising the way we operate and bringing it into the 21st century. We are delighted to welcome Anna and Andrew to the board.”
The club also confirmed they had no plans to appoint a member of any supporters' groups to the board, as they already had plenty of fans' forums and conduits for feedback.