In amongst 46 pages of facts and figures, numbers and forecasts, one total stands out above all others: £93.5m.

Without question it is the biggest takeaway from the 2015/16 accounts of St Mary’s Football Group Limited, which incorporates Southampton Football Club.

It proves, once and for all, that Saints have been investing in their playing squad.

Transfer fees are often undisclosed, and wages seldom ever revealed, which has meant that during a period of heavy player trading over the past few years there has inevitably been speculation as to just what has been won or lost by Saints.

The general accusation is that they have raked in cash from player sales, and then failed to reinvest.

These audited accounts submitted to Companies House well and truly address the hot topic.

The table printed below replicates what Saints have produced.

It rolls back to the start of the 2013-14 season and a huge net spend.

It continues over a period of four seasons, including the forecast for the current campaign.

It shows Saints have brought in £175.1m in player sales during that time, and spent out £220.2m in purchases. That is a net spend of £45.2m They also throw into the mix the rise in player wages, which have gone up a staggering £48.4m over the four seasons in question.

It leaves the total investment at £93.5m.

There will be those who still feel it is not enough, but it does at least answer the question once and for all as to what has been going on.

Chief executive Gareth Rogers explained: “If you go back to the 13-14 season to the current day we have spent just over £40m more on players than we have taken in. Once you take out contingencies, sell-on fees etc, we have invested more than £40m.

“In addition to that the wage bill has gone up just under £50m since we came back to the Premier League.

“Overall you are looking at a £94m investment over a four year period.

“Yes there is the common belief that we don’t invest. I sit here and don’t agree with it and the figures are audited, they are there, they go out into the accounts and people make their own minds up as they will.

“We are confident we are doing the right thing, we invest, and, ultimately, we have to do the right thing for Southampton Football Club.

“We believe we have solidified a lot of contracts this year, the wage bill as is in the accounts is expected to rise somewhere between £15m-£17m depending on final bonuses etc, and that’s only testament to the work of the club and what we are able to attract and move forward.”

Daily Echo:

Rogers is adamant that the club will not return to the days of administration and their finances being in tatters, and defended the spending on the team.

“There is a misconception about this never ending pot of broadcast money,” he said.

“The club itself has expanded and with that broadcasting money comes obligations from the Premier League.

“People won’t see it but we put 4k cable in around the stadium because it was a Premier League regulation. That didn’t come cheap in the last year. That was close to a £1m investment.

“We had to put floodlighting in that was a Premier League regulation that was a £1m investment.

“The Premier League doesn’t just dish out this money and say ‘carry on as you are.’ You have to meet the broadcasting obligations that come with that.

“When you ask ‘is it enough’, you look at our performances over this time and we finished eighth, we finished seventh, we finished sixth, we have been promoted, we are looking to push back into the top half of the table this season, we have had a Wembley appearance, we continue to develop.

“Yes, you could say ‘have we invested enough’ but that’s an opinion. Our feeling is that if you look at the investments we have made it’s a significant number. It’s £90m over four years.”

Rogers can certainly point to a number of encouraging signs in the accounts.

Turnover was up to £124.3m (from £113.7m), despite the new TV deal not kicking in until this season and player wages rising.

Commercial revenue leapt 21 per cent, there was a stronger balance sheet thanks to contract extensions with net assets increasing to £45m. There was also a £4.9m profit, though as Rogers admitted the fickle nature of football transfer accounting does make it a hard yardstick to judge by.

On top of all that, Saints have six partner academies about to launch in the US, meaning further revenue streams about to open up, as well as expanding their brand into a huge potential market.

Rogers pride in commercial growth > >

Staplewood cost to total £40m > >

There are a couple of items in the accounts that raise an eyebrow.

The first is the dramatic increase in player wages. They grew four per cent in the year to June 2016 to £67.2m, and are forecast to rocket 24 per cent this season to a whopping £83.6m.

Rogers explained: “The player wages to turnover ratio for the 14-15 season was 57 per cent. We have reduced that a little bit to 54 per cent with the commercial growth we have brought on board because of course wages haven’t gone down into the current year, they have gone up.

“The next year whilst the player wages are going up significantly we have managed to arrest that growth of wages to turnover even more and that will be down to 48 per cent.

“You have to remember it is always a little bit of a false figure because the broadcasting income stays broadly similar for three years but wages grow during that three year cycle, so you end up with this step growth in wages with a flat broadcasting income. Then the broadcasting income jumps again and you get the step again.

“You will probably see over the next three years that the wages to turnover will grow over the cycle, then fall again for the cycle, then grown again, then fall.”

Rogers, who insisted that confidentiality agreements means he is unable to discuss the reports of potential outside investment in the club, did also agree that the debt level at the club is too high.

Though it is manageable, Saints had to borrow to offset the losses such as those suffered in the transfer market in 2013-14.

Katharina Liebherr has also loaned money, and the accounts have thrown up the option for her to be repaid £11m this year.

“When we spoke two or three years ago we always said the level of debt was going to grow in order to arrest the cash outflows happening within the business, we had to do that, we had to stabilise the club, to make it sustainable and grow the revenue to how the club was going to develop going forward,” explained Rogers.

“At some point in time when we spoke back then we had to arrest that level of debt.

“We can’t continue with the level of debt the club has compared to its turnover. It’s not healthy, it’s not right for the club to continue to operate with a £62m debt level.

“Next year we will end up with turnover much higher than at the moment because of the new broadcasting contracts, but it’s too high and not healthy for the club to continue with that going forward.

“However we reduce the debt, and whoever that debt is reduced against, we can’t continue that moving forward.”