The club’s turnover was 59 million euros last year, but Smits felt it necessary to clarify. ‘Due to the Bosman ruling the financial value of players depreciates during their contract, which means a depreciation charge of 7 million euros. So without a ball being kicked, we start the year with minus 7 million! This charge has to be at least covered by the results from regular operations and the sale of players. We couldn’t cover those depreciation charges from operations this past financial year, but the positive sales result on players we still managed to get in the black and there was money over for investment.
‘Of that 59 million turnover, 9 million (15 percent) comes from national league gate receipts. However, 37 million euros is generated by our commercial activities, such as sponsoring, merchandising and media activities. That is some 63 percent.
‘So we can only be thankful that Jorien began building a professional marketing and commercial department all those years ago, which is now very firmly structured and which forms the financial foundations of Feyenoord.’
Smits also touched on the lack of municipal support. ‘In 2003 we experienced a situation in which financial assistance from municipalities was only possible when a business has been mismanaged demonstrably. Public funds are made available only if you are bankrupt. The larger the financial breach, the greater the chance of assistance. A bizarre situation, if you ask me.’
Smits called the departure of technical director Rob Baan ‘a difficult intervention, in human terms too, and remembering the successes that we have experienced with Rob Baan. But precisely in football past success are no guarantee of future success.’ Smits also thanked Bert van Marwijk for his services to the club and expressed his confidence in the new team of Gullit and Wotte.
In ending, Smits discussed the changes to the club’s legal structure. ‘The increasing complexity of the football business Feyenoord and the even increasing financial obligations confirms even more the correctness of the decision taken to change the legal status of Feyenoord. This process is in full swing – due to its complexity we are being assisted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers – and we reached a significant milestone at the end of 2003 when we received official permission from the Ministry of Finance, which approved the proposed changes. That means that we will be able to round off this project this year. And that will lead to the creation of the public limited company Feyenoord Rotterdam, with the customary regulatory body, the Supervisory Board, whose first chairman will be Jorien, and an executive body, the board of directors.’