Aston Villa post a £50 million loss in 2012-13, but things are looking up

Richard Heathcote

With the release of their 2012-13 financial statement, it seems as if Villa have some cause for concern. It also looks as if those worries are being addressed.

If ever there we an argument in favor of the austerity imposed upon Aston Villa by Paul Lambert, this is it: in the financial year that coincided with the 2012-13 season, Villa posted after-tax losses of £51.8 million. That amount includes what the club refers to as "the accelerated amortisation of certain players' registrations and their employment costs." In normal speak: we paid off a bunch of dead-weight contracts.

The losses should come as no surprise, given the largesse of previous front offices, especially that of Martin O'Neill. Nevertheless, it's disheartening to see the club lose so much money in a single year. The club insist, however, that there is reason to be optimistic about the future, with Chief Financial Officer Robin Russell saying:

"The 2012-13 accounts effectively close a chapter on a period of heavy losses. As we near the end of the 2013-14 season, the Club is financially self-sufficient, compliant with both UEFA's and the Premier League's Financial Fair Play requirements and we look forward to a period of continued growth and progress on and off the pitch."

And the good news is that there is reason to believe Russell. Underneath the giant red ink numbers are more promising black ones. For instance, operating expenses that did not include the amortization of wages between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 season declined by £6.2 million. All things being equal, that's a nice gain. But all things were not equal, as the club also brought in £3.3 million more. All told, if exceptional expenses are ignored the club actually are just shy of £10 million better than they were in the 2011-12 season.

While those exceptional expenses oughtn't be ignored, the players that Paul Lambert has brought in will mitigate the need for such future expenditures. Watching Lambert navigate the transfer market has been exceptionally frustrating at times, but it's reports such as this one that emphasize why he's had such a limited budget within which to work. It stands to reason that regularly increasing television revenue and a continued improvement in income coupled with this austerity will eventually mean that Villa have the funds to sustain a less austere future.

And for those who continue to call for Randy Lerner's head, consider the fact that the owner has forgiven £90.1 million in loans to the club. That's in addition to the £20.3 million in accumulated interest that he waived last year. Of course, as owner, if the club couldn't pay it back, the impact would have been the same. These financial moves, however, have the impact of Lambert plugging more than £110 million into the club with no expectation of a return. It's understandable that fans may sometime get the impression that Lerner is a disinterested owner, but it is impossible to deny that he is single-handedly helping the club remain financially stable.

Give the whole statement a read, and then let us know what you think? Are Villa positioned for a stable future, or is this simply a facade on a failing enterprise?

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