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COMMENT: Life with big boys comes at a cost
What an interesting set of accounts Saints have today published, one that draws a line under the time of Nicola Cortese and presents a fascinating picture of life at St Mary’s.
On the one hand there is the overwhelmingly positive – the former executive chairman led Saints to the top flight with drive and single minded ambition.
As a result Saints saw turnover increase by 213 per cent in the blink of an eye, with broadcast income going up by over £40m.
This is dining with the big boys and it’s exactly where Saints want to be.
Cortese helped deliver much of that success, and deserves praise for his part in it.
However, the comments by Hans Hofstetter also tell a tale.
He descirbes the financial situation the new board have inherited as “difficult.” He also says they will avoid a repeat performance.
The figures are for the period of 2012/13, but we have been brought fully up to speed on major spending.
That seems to be where the concern lies.
The Staplewood project will now come in at £30m. That is about double what was expected, and there will be many questioning just whether the club needs such an expensive training base.
It is clearly an investment for the future, but that surely cannot come at any cost.
This season the team have been operating out of temporary accommodation, and by general consensus have done very well.
Then there is the transfer spending.
Since Saints have won promotion they have invested heavily.
They spent over £30m on the likes of Gaston Ramirez, Jay Rodriguez, Emmanuel Mayuka, Nathaniel Clyne, Paulo Gazzaniga, Steven Davis and Maya Yoshida before starting their Premier League campaign in 2012/13. Artur Boruc and Vegard Forren were later added.
Of course, squad investment is necessary, vital even, to make the step up.
But again, at what level is sensible will be asked?
Saints owe £27m still in transfer fees with £22m to be coughed up in 2014/15 alone, inevitably causing some concern as to what impact it will have on future spending should Mauricio Pochettino wish to strengthen in the summer.
Thankfully Saints still have the backing of Katahrina Liebherr, and for many that will really be all that matters. Well, that and Premier League football for another season.
With Cortese now departed the new board now have a chance to stamp their own mark on things and, if they see problems or revenue streams untapped, it’s their time to prove what they can deliver.
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