The United States Soccer Federation released financial results for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2018, and business is still booming. Despite swallowing a World Cup embarrassment over that period, U.S. Soccer increased their unrestricted assets from $148 million to over $162 million. They added a net of just under $11 million from $123.6 million in revenue less $112.7 million in expenses, and added the rest from an unrealized gain on their investments.
The results close the books on the Sunil Gulati era, which was a period of tremendous financial growth for the Federation. Under Gulati’s leadership, the assets grew roughly 12% per year, from $42 million to the significant number it is today. There has been a fair amount of criticism thrown at this growing asset in the face of financially motivated, including:
- A failure to provide of clear public vision for the use of the funds;
- The disparity in pay between the men and the women’s national teams;
- A perceived lack of investment in the development of young players and coaches; and
- Rising ticket prices
New Federation President Carlos Cordeiro has begun to steer the ship in a moderately improved position, according to comments he made during the National Council Meeting on Saturday.
U.S. Soccer's FY20 budget is forecasting a ~$14m deficit (there was a ~$13m deficit in FY19).— Ian Thomas (@byIanThomas) February 16, 2019
Federation says it is in excellent financial shape, and this represents "investing for the future."
According to Cordeiro, the 2019 fiscal year, which will close at the end of March, will run at a $13 million deficit, eating into the $162 million. The Federation is already planning to operate at similar deficit throughout this coming year as well.
The 2019 deficit might be more a result of lost revenue from missing the World Cup than more investment. Cordeiro cited a $115 million budget in 2019, up only slightly from 2018, with a big increase to $136 million set for the coming year. Cordeiro mentioned coaching programs and a task force to improve youth development as a focus of the new investment.
U.S. Soccer has built a nice nest egg, but currently has over $100 million invested in stocks and bonds. While investment in soccer related activities appears to be increasing, the vision for using these funds to achieve the Federation’s mission remains a mystery to the public. The reality is this non-profit’s relationship with its balance sheet is far better than the one it has with its soccer community. The U.S. Soccer Federation should start turning all of this financial equity into brand equity for soccer by setting a clear public direction and backing it up with big financial risks to grow the game.