Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to contact the club or post on social media in recent days. There is a clear passion for FC Isle of Man across our community which we could only dream of twelve months ago when kicking-off our first ever competitive league game away at Maine Road.
Last season was an enormous success on and off the pitch and you, our supporters, were an important part of that. The players, manager and all the other volunteers involved at the club took huge energy and confidence from knowing there was such support behind them. Home or away we had, and continue to have, a vocal group who inspire us all to do better each week.
Your support has also demonstrated how important the club can be for and within our community. We have heard numerous stories of the positive benefits of being part of our club. The meaning and togetherness from attending our games at the Bowl found by bringing together strangers, families and friends while cheering on the Ravens have been life-changing in some cases.
We purposefully set up the club so it was very reliant on community support, while working with important key sponsors, for it to be successful. We wish for everyone who puts any time, effort, or money into the club to be proud of the part they are playing in not only keeping the club alive but also any success we have on and off the pitch. This bond between the club and the community is critical to the longevity of the club. Last season showed what was possible and it is up to us all to do the best we can to keep this alive over the seasons ahead. The better job we all do in collaborating as a community on and off the field of play, the better the team will do as it tries to progress up the leagues.
Those of us charged with managing the club on behalf of the supporters, are very aware that we now have an even greater responsibility to ensure the club is around for many years to come. Not just so talented young footballers have something to aspire to but also, so our community continues to have a valued asset making a meaningful and positive contribution to our Island.
The stark reality, for these outcomes to happen, is we will need to generate at least £400,000, not only to cover our costs for the 2022/23 season but also to deliver our wider plans from 2023/24 onwards (e.g., entry into The FA Cup and FA Youth Cup amongst other things).
Around 80% of these costs relate to off-island travel and accommodation for us (when playing off-Island) and the visiting team & match officials (when playing at home) – a level of expenditure that other clubs in our league, and the leagues above, simply do not have. This is both the “price we have to pay” and a price we believe is worth paying to provide opportunities for our community through football. One example to this point would be the significant boost to the Manx economy from our opponents and their supporters visiting for a minimum one night’s stay over the tourist ‘low season’ that would otherwise not happen.
We have therefore arranged our pricing across the club to give ourselves the best chance possible to meet our financial targets whilst attempting to recognise the challenges families and organisations may have over the next 12 months. This is not an easy thing to balance and one we could have done a better job at communicating to you all over the last few months.
For further context, FC Isle of Man posted a £9,000 loss in our first full season despite having turned over more than £360,000. Although we had fantastic attendances and support from sponsors, those monies coming into the club were still not sufficient to cover all our costs. This was for a variety of reasons which included increased travel costs alongside a ticket pricing structure and official supporter discounts that were, on reflection, overly generous. The sharing of gate receipts with the League and opposition when playing at home in the playoffs and cups games at the end of last season also had an impact.
With reserves in the bank from the previous trading year this loss was not a problem and we felt it was a tremendous success for a new community business operating in such challenging times to complete the season while also supporting many local businesses during the transition back towards a more normal existence.
However, when planning a budget for 2022/23 we certainly did not wish to be in the same position come June 2023. We also knew much of our main expenditure (travel) would be rising even further whilst also factoring in the likely price rises that we can now see coming into play.
Ahead of the 2022/23 season we have been able to reduce some expenditure and bring in some additional monies through sponsors while also putting plans in place to bring more money into the club over the months ahead.
While we are fortunate to have incredibly supportive sponsors, matchday gate receipts have always been, and will continue to be, a cornerstone revenue source for the club – representing 40% of budgeted income. So, following a comprehensive review of ticket purchasing information from 2021/22 AND modelling a variety of pricing options alongside attendance predictions it was clear the club’s finances would be in a critical position before the end of the 2022/23 season if we did not act on ticket prices.
We do know that for official supporters and those who made effective use of the advanced purchase tickets last season this price increase feels significant and probably unfair. We take full responsibility for that because, in the main, we set unrealistic expectations during last season with the inexpensive match tickets options. On reflection those prices were on the low side, and we needed to correct them for this season to ensure the viability of the club over the long-term. We acknowledge the communication about this could have been much better and this is a definite work-on for us over the months ahead.
We know that a large crowd at the Bowl creates a wonderful atmosphere for the players and your fellow supporters, therefore we promise all supporters that match-ticket pricing will be set at the lowest possible levels whilst make sure doing so does not put the club in jeopardy.
Although we believe we have met this promise this season we commit to taking a further look at ticket options within our current pricing structure to ensure our home games are as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.
In line with this we will also strive to ensure official supporters gain exceptional value for money for the £10 FC Isle of Man receives for their supporter status.
We are a little over a year since the club started kicking a ball in the English Non-League football pyramid. Fantastic things have happened in such a short space of time, and all involved with FC Isle of Man are profoundly grateful for your support. We, the volunteers running the club, are learning all the time, recognise we do not have all the answer and know we will not ever get everything right for everyone. But please be assured that we are doing all we can in the best interest of all connected with the club, for the long-term, and we appreciate your patience and understanding over the last twelve months.
To ensure FC Isle of Man will be around for many years, so it continues to provide long-lasting benefits to our community and the individuals within it, through football, we do need to meet our financial obligations each season and, like every other business, this season costs are not getting any lower. We will do our bit, in partnership with our great sponsors, to make home games as affordable as possible, but we really do need you all to join us at The Bowl as often as you can to make this easier for us to do as we move forwards with the Club.
With important home games each of the next three Saturdays in September (including our home debut in the FA Vase on the 24th September) your support can make all the difference to the players, and we look forward to sharing those experiences with as many of you as possible.
Investing your money in the club creates positive ripples through the wider Manx economy and our community to the benefit of us all over the longer-term.
Very best wishes and UTR
The FC Isle of Man Board
For those who wish to understand the above in a little bit more details, you can watch the recording of the Official Supporter End of 21/22 Season Review held in June 2022 – click here to watch.