Barrie Clegg of the Save Our Stow consortium has researched Walthamstow Stadiums finances and published the following findings in the Greyhound Star. The following shows a summary of just how profitable the stadium could be as a working greyhound stadium:
IS WALTHAMSTOW STADIUM A VIABLE BUSINESS?
As a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, I have a professional understanding of accounts as well as a good knowledge of Walthamstow Stadium, having been there just about every week in the past 27 years prior to closure.
I downloaded the company accounts from Companies House for the 6 years to 28 February 2007 and, together with other information made available to me, I have reached my own conclusions as to the viability of greyhound racing at Walthamstow Stadium.
Firstly, I will set out some facts:
- Over the 6 year period, the cumulative accounts profit before dividends totalled £439,876.
- The above cumulative profit was after paying directors remuneration and pension contributions of £9,074,708.
- During the 6 year period, the minimum extracted by a combination of pension contributions and directors remuneration was over 1.1m (2007) and the maximum was 1.94m (2005).
- The directors report forming part of the 2005 accounts stated that ‘the continuing high cost of funding the company’s now closed non contributory pension fund was the principal factor in the increased cost of sales.’
- The balance sheet net assets (ignoring deferred tax and pension scheme liability) was between 2.3m and 2.85m.
- Cash at bank varied between £496,436 (2005) and £920,700 (2002) with the figure of £767,758 as at 28/2/07.
The above, together with other information I have access to, leads me to form the following personal opinions:
- The pension scheme and the directors’ salaries were a tremendous drain on the business. Without these costs alone, the business would have remained hugely profitable throughout the period. It still remained generally profitable even with these tremendous liabilities.
- It is clear to me (and many people share my view) that the business could have made many changes during this period to increase profitability further. Examples of this are:
-Treating the regulars eg owners, with respect by not, by way of example, supplying them with plastic beakers to drink from in an owners and trainers bar and offering better deals (or at the very least as good as) to your regulars as opposed to the ‘six-packers’.
-Follow the example of other establishments during lean times ie MORE entertainment and MORE competitive prices for drinks etc rather than the direct opposite.
-Closing the popular side open on Tuesday’s (and possible Thursdays) to save with heating, lighting and staffing costs.
-Slashing the staffing costs of over 4.2m per annum.
-Increasing the promotion, especially to the City for office parties etc.
-Keep the bars and betting booths open longer and turning the Goodwood Lounge in to an after racing members/owners club.
- I have undertaken an exercise to ‘project’ income and expenditure based on information I have and my knowledge of the track and making sensible changes to staffing arrangements etc. My calculations indicate that an annual profit of over £2m is readily achievable and this is without a BAGS contract which could be worth a further £1m or so.
So this leads me to my conclusion. Any talk of the track being ‘non-viable’ is, in my opinion, complete nonsense. It is a potential goldmine. I cannot say for sure whether the track was run down on purpose for ulterior reasons. The track remained profitable and able to sustain huge directors’ wages and pension contributions whilst being run, in my opinion, at a low efficiency rate in the latter years. A combination of far reduced pension/directors’ wages commitments coupled with sensible changes to the general running of the business would, in my opinion, result in a hugely profitable business.