Monday 25th October 2021
IT’S been a challenging time on and off the pitch for Dumbarton recently – but finance director and company secretary Stephen Lynch is keeping things ticking over.
With the 2019/20 accounts submitted and work about to start on the 2020/21 accounts we thought we would catch up with Stephen to get a sense of how the club is performing off the park and the challenges faced.
Stephen takes us back to one of his favourite Dumbarton trips as the Sons won the semi-final of the Challenge Cup in Oswestry, against The New Saints in February 2018.
He said: “It was one of my best Sons memories but three months later, having being asked by the then owners to assist in getting a handle on the club’s finances, it was one of my worst nightmares!
“I couldn’t believe the state of the business side with little management of the finances, almost no budgetary controls and living day to day scrambling for cash. A far cry from the strong commercial controls of past chairmen like Alan Jardine. “
Stephen continued: “The extent of the financial problem was exacerbated that month with relegation in May 2018, the overdraft limit being reached and three former directors all threatening legal action against the club for debts created years before.
“It was a desperate position, but one we had to fix. With John Steele as the new chairman and a board made up of lifelong Dumbarton fans the tough task of trying to turn the position round began.
“This was not helped with further legacy exposures identified in 2018/19 that saw the club at the brink. It’s a matter of record, in the published accounts, that six-figure losses were made in2017/18 and 2018/19, the latter primarily by legacy issues from the prior regime.
“Such were the results in 2017/18 that the auditors felt duty bound to include a statement about DFC being a going concern. A serious addendum to any accounts.”
But better days lay ahead, with fans and the club pulling together to rescue the situation – not knowing of the global pandemic which was just around the corner.
Stephen continued: “With the support of the Sons Trust and fan groups, sponsors, and incredible hard work from numerous volunteers we began to turn the club.
“We developed a plan to reduce the debt position and build a break even plan and were well on the way to achieving that when disaster struck as the Covid pandemic arrived in March 2020 and the season ended early.
“However, the fans came to the rescue again and within weeks £25,000 was raised from a ‘crowdfunder’. With that and various other fund raisers it took us from the brink and gave us time to regroup.
“In fact, such was the effort and support that for the first time in many years the club broke even, and net debt was at its lowest for years (per the published accounts). Though there were many sleepless nights!
“So much has changed since that day in May 2018 and so many positive initiatives including the removal of the going concern note from the accounts, the introduction of the Sons Lotto, Pixellot live streaming and commentary, free under-16 season tickets and great support from sponsors.
“A special mention must be given to philanthropist James Anderson who donated over three million pounds to Scottish football to help clubs. DFC benefited by £50,000 and this was a huge contributing factor in seeing us through the pandemic.”
Stephen added: “The work in preparing the 2020/2021 accounts begins shortly and there is no doubt the new owners inherit one of the best financial positions the club has seen in decades with manageable debt thanks to the efforts of the board and fans.
“The new owners have stated they have ‘significant plans’ for the club and while there is a different approach in running the club a strong platform has been created.”
Dumbarton Football Club