Soccer Club Budgets: What You Need to Know

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The Coaching Manual
Apr 26, 2019
Written by The Coaching Manual
Coaching Manual-601-min
Soccer Club Culture In-line

The Director of Coaching (DOC) has a broad role, in which matchday performance represents only one element. Soccer may ultimately be a results game, but the DOC also has a hand in everything from the club's culture and playing philosophy to how and when money should be spent.

Budgeting is a complex task, and one that often requires specialist skills. While we're not suggesting that you need to qualify as a chartered accountant to be a successful DOC, you certainly shouldn't underestimate the complexities of managing your club's finances. Read on for our key tips on budgeting at your youth soccer club, academy or programme.


General considerations when planning your budget

While every club faces unique challenges, there are plenty of fundamental principles to keep in mind when working on your budget:


Keep it simple

To reiterate, you don't need to be an accountant to deliver an appropriate and effective budget for your club; chances are it won't be presented to shareholders. Don't be afraid to keep it simple. In fact, the more accessible and jargon-free you can make it, the better. This makes it far more likely that you - and your coaches, if necessary - will refer back to it throughout the season.


Be realistic

Again, you're not attempting to lure potential investors in a stock market flotation, you're looking to create a budget that accurately reflects the financial position of your club. Overestimating income or underestimating costs is only likely to put people off actually using your budget, rendering the whole exercise a waste of time.


If it becomes clear that your budget is too conservative and you have more money than expected, that's great news, and your forecasts can be updated from a position of strength.


Align your budget to the club's vision and long-term strategy

Your budget shouldn't be planned in isolation. Instead, it should be an accurate record of the financial steps required to deliver your vision and strategy.


To give an extremely simplistic example, if you know that a better training pitch is essential to achieving your objectives around improving the technical skills of your players, the necessary investment should be accounted for within your budget. Likewise, if one of your key objectives is to win a specific tournament, you need to set aside money for entering it, travelling to the venue, and potentially staying overnight in the host city.


Make sure you have the necessary assistance

It's unrealistic to assume that you can singlehandedly develop and oversee your club's budget over the course of a busy season.


The club treasurer is typically tasked with keeping track of the budget, but your fellow directors - such as the Technical Director or Director of Soccer Operations - should also be kept in the loop.


You should also consider briefing senior coaches on the specifics of your budget. After all, there's little point putting in place limits around what they can spend if they don't know about them.


Create monthly, quarterly and yearly budgets

It's unlikely that you'll be able to build a single budget that offers sufficient detail about day-to-day operations, while also providing the information needed to aid long-term planning.


What's more, different people will want access to different levels of information. It's unlikely that your fellow directors will need to know exactly how much is being spent from one week to the next; likewise, your coaches probably don't require visibility over multiple years worth of financial data.


Don't try to make your budget all things to all people. Instead, create separate weekly, monthly and yearly budgets, and disseminate them to the relevant coaches and directors.


Soccer Club Culture: In-line


Soccer-specific elements to your club budget

While it's useful to have a grasp of general business principles when creating any budget, soccer is a very different environment to selling office supplies, building cars or running a restaurant. Some elements of your budget will be unique to the sporting realm, such as:


Coaching recruitment

Even if you're not actively hiring, you should always be looking to identify talented coaches who fit in with your playing system and cultural values.


As we've discussed before, turnover of coaches is often higher than it would be in the business world. Most companies plan for 10% of staff leaving over the course of a financial year, but at a soccer club, it's not unusual for this figure to double. Your budget needs to account for the possibility of having to replace a significant proportion of your coaching staff in any given year.


Refereeing costs

Obvious but easily overlooked. Referees need to be paid for, although this sum may be accounted for in your fees to the league. Either way, make sure it's reflected in your budget.


Travel and hotels

Depending on the geographic spread of teams in your league, you may have to spend a significant amount of time on the road. This carries with it an array of associated costs, from hiring a bus and driver, to putting up your players and coaches in a hotel. You'll also have to think about paying for food and drink while they're away from home.


League fees

An array of practical measures are covered by league fees, from insurance to prizes. Leagues typically carry out a range of administrative functions too, so their fees also go toward the salaries of staff required to perform these duties.


Equipment and kit

Without the necessary kit, training and playing equipment - from balls, goal posts and nets to bibs and cones - you won't even be able to put a team on the field. It's a fact of sporting life that this equipment will need to be upgraded regularly, which can put a strain on club budgets - especially if these purchases haven't been properly accounted for in advance.


Game filming

Recording games can help your coaches give more specific and practical feedback to players. It can also allow you to scrutinise the tactics, strengths and weaknesses of your opponents. But you'll need to buy the necessary filming and editing equipment - not to mention paying for someone to point the camera in the right direction.


Facility maintenance

Important repairs tend to crop up at the most inconvenient moments. If the heating in your locker room stops working, you can bet it won't happen at the height of summer. While you can't see the future, it's good practice to set aside a chunk of your budget at the start of the season for unexpected maintenance.


Tournament entry fees

Just as you'll (probably) have to pay to enter your league, you may also have to account for the cost of competing in separate events. Budget constraints may dictate that you simply can't afford to enter all the competitions you wanted to; it's obviously better to predict this in advance than to deal with it on the eve of the tournament.