The continued investment in playing talent helped contribute to an upturn on the pitch for Everton in 2011/12, the Club's Annual Results and Report confirmed today.
A 9% year-on-year increase in the wage bill - taking it to record levels - and the January transfer window acquisitions of Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson, Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan, saw a turnaround in the team's fortunes last season.
Following a slow start to the Barclays Premier League campaign, Everton finished the season in style - losing only two of our last 16 league games and securing an FA Cup semi-final appearance at Wembley.
New contracts for players, including Marouane Fellaini, Tim Howard, Phil Neville and Ross Barkley, added to the four January arrivals, saw the Club's total wage bill rise to £63.4m from £58m in 2010/11. The Club's wages as a percentage of turnover - adding back outsourced catering and retail income - was 75% [2010/11 - 67%].
The summer arrivals of Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith and Bryan Oviedo are not included in the accounts for this financial year. The accounts do include the costs attributed to the acquisition of Royston Drenthe, Denis Stracqualursi and James McFadden.
Turnover was slightly down on the previous year - £80.5m from £82m - mainly due to four fewer games being picked for live TV and a fall in both gate receipts and Season Ticket numbers. All revenue contributors have since shown encouraging signs of recovery in the current financial year with Season Ticket sales up by 6.4% on the 2011/12 season and, most recently, the sale of over 1,000 Half Season tickets.
Sponsorship revenue showed encouraging signs of growth - up to £7.1m from £6.8m. Further new partnership agreements made with kit supplier Nike and secondary ticketing marketplace StubHub do not fall into 2011/12 financial year.
The continual search for operational efficiencies delivered cost savings and resulted in other operating expenses (including running Goodison Park, and the Finch Farm Academy and Training Complex) falling for the second successive season to £22.7m [2010/11 - £23.6m].
After interest charges, player trading and amortisation, the Club recorded a net loss of £9.1m. Net debt remains largely unchanged at £46m.
Chief executive Robert Elstone said: "The Club has demonstrated its commitment to first team success with increased expenditure on player wages. We continue to try to enhance our competitive position and, at the same time, manage cost base and debt levels effectively. To get through a challenging year with only minimal increases in overall debt whilst at the same time, based on the opinions of many experts, strengthening our first-team squad is testament to the skill, hard work and commitment of the manager, the chairman and all their support teams.
"I'm also delighted to report, those on-field performances, boosted by new signings in the summer, have made a considerable impact on the current season. Buoyed by excellent Season Ticket sales, which have been lifted further by record Half Season ticket sales and new commercial partnerships with StubHub and Nike, the Club's turnover projections for 2012/13 are healthy.
"We continue to demonstrate on-field ambition, whilst at all times maintaining a close eye on our entire cost base."
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said the Club's activity in the last two transfer windows has been pivotal to delivering the turnaround in performances on the pitch - beginning with the recruitment of Jelavic, Gibson, Pienaar and Donovan.
"From the day the transfer window closed we embarked on a superb run which delivered eight wins and six draws from our last 16 league games as we swept past teams including Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur," said Mr. Kenwright. "Some of our football was truly spell-binding as we also made a third Wembley appearance in four seasons thanks to a fine FA Cup run.
"We continue to salute and applaud our manager, David Moyes, for the massive part he has played, and continues to play, in the life of this football club."
Mr Kenwright reaffirmed that the search for new investment at Everton continues, adding: "My desire to find a person, or institution, with the finance to move us forward has not diminished. Despite the challenges presented by a global economic downturn, we remain positive and determined.
"My commitment to serve this football club to the very best of my ability remains a constant in my life and I am aware of the trust you put in me to do that."