Gibson O'Neill announce 'plan B' involving Middlesbrough FC

The Steve Gibson-owned group, which also encompasses Bulkhall and Rockliffe Hall, has a plan if the club fail to reach the top flight.

Steve Gibson
Steve Gibson

The parent company of Middlesbrough FC has said it has a financial “plan B” if the club fails to secure promotion to the Premier League.

Gibson O’Neill, the group owned by the football club’s chairman Steve Gibson, said plans are in place if the team fail to secure a return to the top flight.

A move into the Premier League could be worth more than £100m and provide a massive boost to the club’s coffers, but the club are also prepared if the promotion push falters.

The plan is mentioned in the firm’s annual accounts for the year ended June 30 2014, which show the group made a pre-tax profit of £5.91m, more than half the £12m posted the previous year.

A report accompanying the accounts said: “MFC are hoping to mount a serious challenge for promotion to the Premier League with all the attendant benefits but with a clear cost management plan in place in the event of the club continuing to perform in the Championship.”

The Gibson O’Neill accounts show the combined performance for Middlesbrough FC, chemical transport firm Bulkhaul and luxury hotel and spa Rockliffe, near Darlington – and they indicate how pressure on the club’s finances continues to offset strong performances at the group’s other businesses.

The accounts do not break down the performance of the individual businesses, which publish separate financial figures, but show overall turnover fell from £202m to £193m.

The accounts said: “Bulkhaul has continued to perform strongly in the year covered by these accounts.

“MFC has suffered the challenge of continued Championship football.

“Rockliffe has continued to perform well in difficult economic conditions.”

Last month The Journal told how Bulkhaul had benefited from a second refinancing deal, which had helped a “long term confident outlook.”

Figures showed a slowdown in pre-tax profits from £35.2m to £31.5m in the year ended June 2014 and sales also slowed to £170m, from £179m the previous year.

Turnover has crept up at Rockliffe Hall in the same period, from £8.9m to £9.7m, while the operating loss slightly shortened from £1.57m to £1.43m.

Meanwhile, the club’s most recent figures, published last March and covering the year to June 2013, revealed losses of £14m.

The Gibson O’Neill reported added that the business completed a “significant restructuring of its borrowings”, which cut the number of its lenders and provided better lending terms.

The firm said the move freed both Middlesbrough FC and Rockliffe from “external debt” while allowing Bulkhaul to continue to make long-term investments.

The highest paid Gibson O’Neill director, who was not named, received £1.9m.

The firm’s combined workforce increased from 856 to 839, while total staff costs, including player wages, fell from £41m a year to £36.8m.

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