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Premier League winners Leicester FC blame COVID-19 for £67m loss

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Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3 min read
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Leicester City's Jamie Vardy crouches during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday February 21, 2021.
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy crouches during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham, 21 February 2021. Photo: PA

Former Premier League title winners Leicester FC have blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for pushing them to a £67m ($93.3m) loss.

Accounts published on Friday show the football club made a pre-tax loss of £67.3m last year, compared to a loss of £20.2m in 2019.

"Costs related to the pandemic have been far-reaching and its initial bearing on revenue is reflected in our 2019/20 accounts," the club said.

Turnover fell by 15% last year to £150m.

Leicester, who famously won the Premier League in the 2015/16 season, said the interruption of the football season last March "significantly affected both costs and revenue."

"The extension of the season’s conclusion has meant almost a quarter of Premier League revenues, prize money and sponsorship revenue will be not recognised as income until the 2020/21 financial year," the club said.

As well as COVID costs, Leicester said the pre-tax loss reflected continued investment in building the team and its capabilities, which chief executive Susan Whelan said "underpins our long-term ambition to be a consistent challenger domestically and a competitor in Europe each season."

"Our 2019/20 accounts include significant investments relating to the development of our new training centre in Seagrave, as well as considerable further investment in our First Team playing squad, the benefits of which have been evident in sporting performance this season," she said.

READ MORE: Wetherspoon chief blames UK's 'no common sense' COVID lockdowns for £46m loss

Leicester are currently third in the Premier League table and just one point behind Manchester United (MANU).

"While the early impact of COVID-19 on commercial revenues is clear, 2019/20 was still a season of considerable progress," Whelan said.

"On the pitch, we secured a return to European football with our second highest ever Premier League finish and, off it, we were able to support our people through times of hardship, further strengthening the bond between the Club and its communities."

As the pandemic struck, Leicester FC pivoted to helping the people of Leicester, "offering personal, operational and financial support". The group did not furlough or fire any employees and said it continued to pay casual staff despite matches being called off.

"Financial stability" last year was provided by the club's owners, Thailand's billionaire Srivaddhanaprabha family. The owners helped the club "through an unprecedented challenge," Leicester FC said.

"An end to those difficult times of the last year is now hopefully in sight and we look forward to continuing our pursuit of that vision, with our supporters once again a visible, audible and integral part of the Leicester City journey," Whelan said.

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Friday said the government was considering vaccine "certificates" that would allow mass gatherings at sporting events.

"From June 21, if all goes to plan in the way that I described, we hope to get people back in significant numbers," Dowden told Sky News. "We will be testing whether we can use Covid certification to help facilitate the return of sports."

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