In response to comments in the press and other media we would like to make the following statement:
It is no secret that the club has faced extremely difficult trading conditions over the 2010/11 season. As noted at the recent Annual General Meeting, the squad size was reduced at the start of the season, albeit to a similar size of many of our divisional rivals, in an attempt to reduce trading losses. However, as a result of falling attendances, income fell quicker than we have been able to reduce our overheads which means we will still lose a significant six figure sum for the season. With the exception of the 2007/08 season when we received a large windfall income from the Scottish Cup run, the club has made a six figure loss in each of the last seven seasons.
These losses were funded in the main by cash injections from the existing Board of Directors in the form of share purchases and latterly, where necessary, personal loans. However, this cannot continue indefinitely as there is a limit to the amount of personal wealth which is available to be invested in this way. Had attendances held up better in this past season, and we had not suffered two such dreadful winters in succession, we believe that the club would have made it to the end of the current season without a significant debt problem and could have looked forward to a new season, cutting cloth accordingly, without a major issue arising. However, this combination of factors accelerated the situation to a point where cash flow has become a problem latterly. This situation is not unique to Queen of the South, and is very similar to the position in which many of our first division rivals have found themselves recently. We appreciate enormously the assistance of both donors and creditors in managing the problem to date.
We accept that many things could have been done differently over the last few seasons and that communication with the supporters has not always been as good as it might have been. We would also point out that the all the members of the Board of Directors are supporters of the club in the truest meaning of the word, were supporters before they became directors, and will remain so long after they cease to be Directors. We have not at any time obstructed any offer to join the Board of Directors and would happily stand aside if anyone else felt that they could offer the finance or expertise that would allow the club to continue operating at present levels, and considered the existing Board an obstacle to this. We have continued dialogue with the reinvigorated Queen of the South Supporters Trust on an ongoing basis since March and fully intend to continue to do so productively moving forward. If it is felt advantageous in time for a Trust representative to join the Board of Directors we will certainly not prevent it.
In the absence of additional investors or extra sponsors however, we can see no alternative future for the club, at least until any additional income streams from the potential redevelopment of Palmerston in tandem with Dumfries & Galloway Housing Partnership come online, but to aim for a breakeven position moving forward. That means that the playing budget for next season will inevitably have to be cut significantly. As we accept that squad numbers cannot in reality be trimmed any further it is similarly inevitable that the wage levels paid to existing players will have to be dropped. We are certainly not ruling out attempting to re-sign any existing player but it does mean that contracts cannot be “renewed” at current levels. We would however like to point out that there is nothing particularly unusual in a number of players at the club having contracts which are due to run out. This time last season we had ten players out of contract who were not informed about their future until after the last competitive match had been played and that was not especially unusual either.
There is major uncertainty about the future of Scottish Football at this time, particularly with respect to the tier in which we operate. The Scottish Premier League continues to defer decisions which will affect all clubs at this level and the budgets within which we have to work moving forward. This has made it difficult to make decisions for next season and onwards. It is however increasingly likely that playing contracts for more than one season will become a thing of the past at SFL clubs.
At this point we are not in a position to comment on whether that will mean a return to part-time football or not. We are however greatly encouraged by the progress of our existing u19 squad this season and believe several of that team will be able to contribute more significantly at first team level next season. Funding has been obtained for full time training of the u19`s moving forward into next season.
We accept that some of the recent criticism of the Board and of the club in general has perhaps been deserved but it is time to move on from that. We need to get a much more positive feel about Queen of the South for the coming season. The forthcoming shirt sponsorship draw and season ticket sales through the summer are crucial in funding operations for next season. We would encourage as many people as possible to continue to support the club in this way even in such difficult economic times for everyone. Only through everyone sticking together can we hope to keep income levels up and perhaps manage to fund a player or two extra if it were needed. Every Queen of the South supporter is more crucial now than ever before. The last few seasons have seen the name of Queen of the South at a level of respect in Scottish football that it hasn`t seen in decades before that. Let`s all work together to keep it that way.
Thank you for your support.
The Board of Directors