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Dave Seddon’s PNE Press View

Preston North End have been in the spotlight financially this week
Preston North End have been in the spotlight financially this week

This week has been the time for fans of Preston North End to put on their accountancy heads and study two sets of financial figures.

PNE’s accounts for the year ending June 30, 2017, were filed to Companies House and into the public domain.

On Wednesday night, the BBC released their annual Price of Football study, one which looks into the costs for supporters when following their favourite club over land and sea.

Two different documents presented in different ways, showing different sides of a football club.

Both show what football these days demands of both the custodians of a club and those who support it.

It is a costly business on either side of the fence, deep pockets needed.

North End increased their turnover in the last financial year to £13.5m.

That amount was all spent on player and staff wages, pension contributions and social security payments.

Hence it still needs PNE owner Trevor Hemmings to put in a substantial amount of money annually to cover the running of the club.

It was £5m last year and a similar amount is estimated to be needed this season.

The Price of Football study covers clubs across 13 divisions in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This is the seventh year it has been published and we know the drill by now – the study looking at the prices charged by clubs for tickets, pies, cups of tea and replica football shirts.

Although it is not an exact science, it means well and some interesting data has come up this year, something I’ll touch on a bit later.

You would say that North End came out somewhere in mid-table when it comes to the study.

Their pies were some of the cheapest to be chewed on in the Championship but at £2.20, the Deepdale tea is a little more expensive than cuppas at some ground.

Mind you, a brew is £3.20 at Queens Park Rangers – for that you would want it served in a china cup and saucer.

North End’s cheapest season ticket is £380, the 
seventh most expensive in the division.

Balancing that out, the dearest season ticket for Deepdale is £505 and 15 clubs in the Championship had a higher price in that category.

In the dearest away ticket column, only Burton could match PNE’s £24 – the rest ranged from £25 up to an eye-watering £42 charged by Sheffield Wednesday.

Supporters would love to be shelling out less to click through the turnstiles.

Money is not going as far these days as salaries in most industries stay frozen, yet the cost of living increases.

Hence there being a real concern that you could be asked to fork out more than £40 for a game of second-tier football.

Clubs argue that to meet the financial demands of players, they need as much income as possible from the ticket office.

All 24 Championship clubs are, in their own way, chasing the Premier League dream.

Some will throw cash at trying to achieve that dream, others attempt to do it by not gambling the ranch.

But it is always going to involve some substantial outlay.

Hence there is a balancing act to be done in trying to keep football affordable to the paying public with the need for a decent income to come into a club.

Will that balance ever be found at the majority of clubs outside the top flight?

A separate branch of the Price of Football study looked closely at the young supporter, aged 18 to 24.

It was that I referred to earlier in the column and it certainly caught my eye.

Asked how they engaged with football, 64% of fans in that age group answered that they did so through playing on a console/PC games.

For them, a game of FIFA is their way into football.

Worryingly, 44% of those 18 to 24 year olds surveyed, said they engaged with the game through gambling.

Football and gambling has, at the moment, this rather unhealthy alliance which is something of an 
elephant in the room.

Players and employees of clubs in this country are not allowed to bet on any game in the world.

Yet betting companies have their names splashed across many team’s shirts, North End included, and you can’t watch any live match now without Ray Winstone appearing on your screen in the first advert break at 
half-time.

Those who operate the Twitter accounts of football clubs will tell you how much abuse pours their way from fans whose accumulators have been let down by a surprise result – how dare they have scored a last-minute equaliser.

If gambling is the way more younger supporters are engaging with football, will this become the norm?

Meanwhile, it was great to see Jordan Pickford make his England debut last week against Germany.

He might only have been at PNE for five months in the 2015/16 season, but that was sufficient time for North End fans to know what a prospect they were watching.

Pickford has to be on the flight to Russia next summer and pushing Joe Hart for that No.1 spot.