FOOTBALL finance expert Kieran Maguire predicts Southend United could lose at least £500,000 after dropping out of the Football League.

The Shrimpers will be lining up in the National League for the first time in their history this season.

And Maguire knows it will hit the club hard.

“The National League is still good quality football but there is a noticeable dip,” said Maguire, a chartered accountant.

“Tranmere published quite detailed information and when they dropped out their income dropped by around £500,000.

“They did pretty well overall and their commercial income went up because they had new owners who were a bit more inventive but we are talking substantial amounts here.”

The Shrimpers’ recently published accounts, for the year ending July 2019, showed the club’s debt had now grown to £17 million.

And Blues are now facing further financial heartache.

“Clubs get their revenue from three sources,” explained Maguire.

“In terms of matchday if Southend have a good season I’m sure the crowds will still turn up.

“I don’t think that will be hit but the big hits will be in respect of broadcasting.

“In League Two you are getting over a £1million, some of which comes from the Premier League.

“They’re often referred to as solidarity payments and they will lose those altogether.

“Then there’s a share of the EFL’s own TV deal.

“You do get two years of parachute payments in the National League when you drop out so they will get some money but if it’s half of the normal figure you’re looking at £125,000 to £150,000.”

But the drop in income does not stop there.

“The third source of income is going to be sponsorship and commercial partners,” added Maguire.

“You won’t be on television as much now.

“In the EFL you see all the goals on TV and you’re seen on Sky as well so the commercial department will find it a bit more of a challenge to negotiate with sponsors and commercial partners.”

However, a poor financial situation is nothing new for Blues but Maguire is fully aware of the club’s plight.

“For all of the obvious faults, Southend’s accounts were actually quite good,” said Maguire.

“In 2019, it was £7.4million in League One.

“They would have suffered a drop going down into League Two and they were losing close to £50,000 a week.

“It’s a genuine challenge and others are closer to the club than me but I would imagine there would be downward pressure on wages.

“Whenever I’ve spoken to lower league clubs they’ve had agents coming in asking for their players to get a pay-rise but, after Covid, they’ve replied saying they’re not even sure they’re offering them a contract.

“What you often find in the National League as well is that if you’re offered a one year contract it’s only for 10 months.”

And many clubs are now also trying to find their feet after a turbulent time playing behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Lower leagues are more reliant on the matchday income,” said Maguire.

“There’s plenty of clubs in League One or League Two who have 40 or 50 per cent of their revenue coming through the turnstiles.

“Yes, they’ve used Furlough but that’s a life support machine more than anything else.

“When you drop into the National League it’s a case of survival first of all and then taking it from there.”