The cost of on-pitch failure has been laid bare in the latest set of Saints accounts.

Though the club is unquestionably still in a position of overall financial health with a pre-tax profit of £35.2m - albeit £8.4m down from the previous year’s £43.7m - turnover fell by nearly £30m as a result of a poor season.

For the year ending June 30, 2018, Saints had an end of season finish of 17th compared with eighth the previous year along with competing in the Europa League and reaching the EFL Cup final.

It all conspired to mean turnover slumping from £182.2m to £152.6m.

All aspects were hit with:

• Broadcasting revenue falling by nearly £26m from £142.9m to £117m

• Matchday income decreasing by £3.2m from £22.4m to £19.2m

• Commercial earnings dropping by £594,000 from £15.5m to £14.9m – accounting for just 9.7 per cent of turnover

The year saw the takeover of Gao Jisheng with the accounts proving once and for all that there has been no additional debt placed against the club to facilitate the deal.

The accounts show that the sale of Virgil van Dijk and Jay Rodriguez netted £68.9m but with £36.7m spent in that period the player trading profit was £32.2m, which has largely been accounted for already.

With the accounts only providing a snapshot in time, the post-accounts update confirms that the club owe £12m more than they are due in from player trading during this financial year while £18.72m is also noted as a ‘future acquisition’, which the Daily Echo understands to be for Danny Ings with the commitment made to purchase him from Liverpool at the completion of this season.

Overall, the club is in a fairly similar position to the pre-takeover state of affairs, running as self-sustaining business with profits reinvested.

Saints managing director Toby Steele said: “Taking the accounts themselves we have seen a decrease in revenue and bottom line profit but that is primarily from the effects of Europa League participation in the previous year and the EFL Cup run.

“Those two bring in what we would term one-off income because we haven’t regularly been in those positions, so they are significant in that there is very little cost associated with them, particularly Europa which is revenue that pretty much goes straight to the bottom line.

“That saw a reduction in revenue and operating profit but the other big one is the move in league position from 8th in 2017 to 17th in 2018 which lost us a significant amount of turnover and no cost associated with that at all other than a little bit of player bonus.

“We had a much better year in terms of player trading.

“Although we only sold two players, which were Virgil van Dijk and Jay Rodriguez, we know the fee on Virgil was significant and Rodriguez’s book value had been fully written down pretty much so the fee for him was almost all profit.

“When you add that back our overall profit position was only £6m lower than the prior year’s so it is a fairly similar end result but quite a lot going on above that to explain.

“Disappointing in terms of the league position one because we had more control over that at the start of the season, the Europa and EFL less control, particularly Europa as we knew we weren’t in it.

“In terms of the overall health it is good. We continue to put everything back into the club, no dividends coming out, no additional debt put on the business and so no additional cash or interest costs coming out.

“We are continuing to be self-sustaining and so if we want to buy players we can, if we want to invest in infrastructure we can and if we don’t we don’t have to.”

Other notable figures in the account include the wages to turnover ratio rising to 74 per cent as player salaries saw a modest decrease to £85.2m.

“It’s manageable,” insisted Steele. “We are honest enough to say the wages we planned to pay in that season our end league position didn’t justify those wages. We will be open about that. We were paying a wage bill significantly higher than a 17th place finish.

“That is disappointing but the prior year we did have the Europa League revenues as well and the EFL Cup run so part of that is masked by those. If you take those out the ratio gap wouldn’t have been quite as big but still bigger than we wanted.

“We accept that we are paying more than we possibly should be based on our league position, and that has continued into this year.”

Saints have seen a 13 per cent increase in employees to 429 across the club, excluding the more than 1,000 employed on a match day.

The highest paid director, assumed, though unconfirmed, to be chairman Ralph Krueger, had a £30,000 pay rise to earn £636,000.

This year is the first that the accounts of the company used to purchase Saints, Lander Sports (UK) International Investment Co, will also be filed.

However, Lander’s accounts do not provide an accurate detail of the club’s position due to only taking in part of the year and the accounting measures used for valuing assets which, in football, means the value of all existing players is set at zero for the new company.

The lack of serious debt remains a positive for the club.

“From a debt perspective we still have our working capital facility that we have every year. That was still in place at the year end but paid back just after the year end,” explained Steele.

“We have got the amount to UBS which is a bank loan we are repaying over three years so we will be debt free from that perspective in a couple of years.

“We have had no additional debt coming into the club so from that perspective it’s really healthy and a good position to be in.”

Like many businesses, Saints remain cautious over the possible impacts of Brexit and are hoping for further direction and guidance soon.

There is a chance it could be a benefit with a possible easing of restrictions for signing players from outside the EU. However, the club remain cautious it could also make signing EU players more difficult and affect them in terms of currency exchange.

Saints are still looking at completing the final phase of the Staplewood development in the next couple of years which would raise still further the standard of the academy facilities, but there is no final commitment to that yet as the club prioritise where they spend money.

The same can be said for the refurbishment of St Mary’s, which was put on hold this time last year.

The fan zone outside the ground is still going ahead while the presence of post-season music concerts at St Mary’s means any work inside the stadium is likely to be spread over a number of summers.

Another matter close to the heart of supporters is ticket prices.

While Steele admits there are no numbers for him to be able to discuss yet, he insists the club have listened hard to the criticism they have received over season ticket prices and are working on initiatives they hope will be better received.

“One of the things we have done is consult with the Saints Voice,” he explained. “They gave us good feedback on what they felt were the positives and the negatives of the last couple of seasons and prices around early bird, family prices and so on.

“We have taken that on board and have been working towards putting together a plan.

“I haven’t seen the first draft of that plan yet, but we are hoping it will address some of those gripes and we will continue working with that group to try and find something that works for all of us.

“I can’t definitively say what those numbers are because I don’t know what they are but I hope they will be better received than last year.”