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Bristol Rovers president offers assurances after accounts show £24m debt

Bristol Rovers president Wael Al-Qadi has told fans he is doing all he can to protect the club and staff after the Sky Bet League One announced debts of almost £25million, which do not take into account the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Accounts filed this week for the year ending in June 2019 showed a loss of £3.4m, slightly up on the previous year, from an overall debt of £24,069,114.

The largest part of that debt is £16.2m which is owed to Dwane Sports, an offshore company owned by the Al-Qadi family.

In an open letter to fans on the club website, Al-Qadi wrote: “Like you, I am following the government advice and staying inside, but despite the isolation, we are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that the club comes out of these tough times in a strong position.

“I write today following the release of our most recent set of accounts, which further demonstrate the investment that has been made into the club since we took over in 2016.

“The main focus of this investment has been in the first-team squad, with a highly competitive League One budget which has continued to be provided for all managers.

“These accounts see a 10 per cent increase in the club’s revenue streams, however despite this, due to the levels of investment on the squad, the club has still been running at a significant operating loss.

Ben Garner's Bristol Rovers side sit 14th in League One

Ben Garner’s Bristol Rovers side sit 14th in League One (Nick Potts/PA)

“I understand that many supporters may be concerned about the increasing level of debt, however, I want to reassure them that this position in the current football climate is not unusual. The debt amounting is internal debt so doesn’t affect the day to day running of the club and my commitment to the club and its long term aims remains as strong as ever.

“The impacts of this virus will hit all areas of the economy hard and football clubs are no different. We have lost all forecasted ticketing, retail, catering, bars, events and hospitality revenue.

“However, along with our executive team, I am doing all I can to ensure that everyone within the Bristol Rovers family is as secure as possible.

“I also wanted to thank all of our staff for their continued efforts and adaptability in these difficult circumstances.”

Rovers, managed by Ben Garner who took over following Graham Coughlan’s departure to Mansfield in December 2019, currently lie 14th in the League One table.