Record profit for U's

COLCHESTER United have announced a record £2.4m operating profit for the year ending May 31, 2007, which embraced their first ever season in the Championship.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United have announced a record £2.4m operating profit for the year ending May 31, 2007, which embraced their first ever season in the Championship.

But Chief Executive Marie Partner has warned that the U's have to face up to rising costs over the coming seasons, due to their imminent move to a new stadium, a bigger playing squad and an increased number of employees.

A number of factors have contributed to the previous season's glowing figures, not least bigger gates, an increase in the number of season ticket holders, and income generated from the transfer market.

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Season ticket holders grew from 1,800, in the promotion-winning season of 2005-06, to 3,500 for the club's first ever campaign in the second tier of the Football League. The revenue from season tickets more than doubled.

Attendances also rose, with the U's regularly attracting gates around the 6,000 mark.

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But it was the income generated from transfers that was the biggest contributor to last term's profit margin, and more specifically the club record £2.5m banked for the sale of Greg Halford to Reading just over a year ago.

The U's also benefited from the compensation package received from Hull City for manager Phil Parkinson's departure to Humberside, while he was still under contract with United. That figure was around the £400,000 mark.

Speaking to the EADT last night, Ms Partner said: "In the current climate of clubs facing up to huge debts, and really struggling financially, this profit is encouraging news. We don't often see it in football these days.

“However, we are eight months on from last May, and a lot of that money has already been spent. We had a fantastic first season in the Championship (10th in the table), with average attendances soaring from 3,800 the previous season to 5,800.

“That was coupled with good business dealings in the transfer market, particularly the sale of Greg Halford, which represented a great opportunity for both him and us.

“There was also the compensation for Phil Parkinson, which we felt strongly about because we didn't want to lose him.

“All that has given us a good buffer, because we now have costs that are rising every day. We basically have the shell of the new stadium, but we have to fit it all out, not just with furnishings and such like, but also with telecommunications systems, players' equipment and physio's equipment.

“Stewarding costs are also going to double at the new ground. We have to finance the travel plans for supporters, with the new park-and-ride scheme, which is something that we haven't done before. We also have to bear a lot of other hidden costs, like all the signage for a five-mile radius around the ground,” added Ms Partner.

The U's, who are currently propping up the Championship table, are moving from their antiquated Layer Road ground to a new home for the start of next season, at the Community Stadium on the Cuckoo Farm site. It is estimated that the running costs of the club will double as a result of the move.

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