On Saturday, the club exited the Scottish Cup following a 5-1 defeat to Brora Rangers.

The investment made in preparing the team in the best possible way for this cup tie has been well-documented, with the club booking a luxury coach, overnight hotel stay and lunch arranged for the players ahead of the match. No one was more disappointed with the result than the Board of Directors and management team, who apologised to travelling supporters after the match for the team’s performance.

We would like to wish Brora Rangers well for the rest of their Scottish Cup campaign and thank them for their hospitality.

As our Scottish Cup campaign – a potentially lucrative source of income for all clubs at our level – is now over, we believe it is the right time to update the fans on the financial position of the club.

Although we are still awaiting our final audited accounts, we wanted to inform supporters that it is likely Berwick Rangers FC PLC will be reporting a loss of £115,000 for the financial year ending on May 31st 2023. As you will no doubt understand, a loss of this magnitude simply cannot be repeated, and changes are now afoot to prevent this happening again.

To provide some background, following the previously precarious financial position the club found itself in during early 2020, the Board of Directors worked tirelessly to generate income and did so, thanks in no small part to the overwhelming generosity and support provided to the club by supporters during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with various grants that the club received during that difficult time.

As a result, the club found itself in a position to invest significantly into the playing squad with the ambition of achieving promotion and a three-year plan was put in place to do that starting in the 2021/22 season, with the third season being this current campaign. Over both the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons, gradual progression was seen on the pitch, with a best finish of fifth in the Lowland League in 2022/23 – albeit 18 points behind champions Spartans.

When the new Chairman assumed his position in late January 2023, most of the playing squad were already contracted for the 2023/24 season, and the hope was that the team could continue its progression and be competing at the top end of the Lowland League. However, the early Scottish Cup exit, combined with currently sitting mid-table in the Lowland League and the financial position the club finds itself in, means that the Board of Directors no longer feel as though the end-goal of this three-year plan is achievable, with urgent action required. Injuries to key players, the recent break-ins and away cup draws have not helped.

Despite attempts to increase revenue to support an inflated wage bill – for the previous financial year the wage bill stood at 95% of the PLC’s turnover – the club now needs to cut costs.

Manager Stuart Malcolm has been included in our discussions as we have looked to address the financial position of the club. We remain committed to working with Stuart as he seeks to restructure his squad within a budget that will ensure the club has the playing and administrative resources to continue to operate.

Stuart understands the ethos and values of our club and has led us to our most successful league seasons in the past 15 years – in terms of number of wins, points per game and goals scored. We fully believe in the coaching team of Stuart, Dean Shanks and Thomas Scobbie as we being this restructuring process.

Looking forward…

At the AGM in January 2023, we – the current Board of Directors – set out our vision for Berwick Rangers FC to provide a great day out, to be a force for good within our community, and to be here for the long term. We have made demonstrable progress on all of these fronts. In the short-term, average match attendance is up c.10% on last season, season ticket sales are up 26%, club memberships are up 31% and matchday takings are up 160%. There are no quick fixes, but feel it is important to be open about what lies ahead as we continue to work tirelessly as custodians of this great club.

The past eight months has also seen the club take steps to set a strong platform for the medium and long-term. Significant work has taken place at the club to allow us to continue to meet the Scottish FA’s licensing criteria, while we have also had to carry out repairs to the ground’s electrics, lighting, and now club shop following the break-in earlier this month.

We identified that the club could generate new revenue from making greater use of our facilities, through a wider calendar of events, room hire, and the expansion of footballing activities through Berwick Rangers Community Academy, which itself secured a landmark partnership with local business Simpsons Malt Limited earlier this year. As a result, we have also invested in the playing surface at Shielfield Park to ensure it is in the best possible condition every single weekend.

This rapid growth in our commercial activities, along with increased matchday turnover, the selling of almost all matchday sponsorship opportunities for the 2023/24 season and massively increased footfall at Shielfield Park across the week – regularly between 800-1,000 people per week across all teams and events – would not have been possible without the hard work of our operational staff. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued commitment and efforts. These events, as well as football being played at Shielfield Park multiple times per week, further support the financial health of the club.

The club’s financial position is a major concern, but it would be in a far worse place were it not for the backing that has been shown to us by so many supporters. Whether that is through increased attendances, Club 1881 memberships, corporate sponsorships, attending club events and a range of other ways, our supporters remain the lifeblood of the club. We are incredibly grateful for your support through recent challenges and ask for you to continue on this journey with us.

In the short-term, our aim is to ensure the club reaches the end of the season with money in the bank, allowing us to stabilise the finances of the team next year. This will then provide us with the solid footing needed to enact a longer-term strategy for the club, as over the next five to ten years we aim to be working in close partnership with Berwick Rangers Community Academy to ensure that young players are supported to make the jump to senior football, and represent their hometown. We will continue to provide support to Berwick Rangers Community Academy, and stay in touch with other football organisations in the local area to keep us all working for the good of the community.

If we stay together and keep pushing in the same direction, there will be many more bright days to come for Berwick Rangers FC.