MORTON chairman Crawford Rae has blamed the club for 'unacceptable' losses which have impacted his family's sweetie empire.

Mr Rae says the financial performance of the football business has 'severely affected profitability' of confectionery firm Golden Casket, which he is managing director of.

Profits at the Fort Matilda company, known for brands such as Millions, Buchanan's and One Pounders, were down by £63,000 in the 12 months to December 31, 2018.

Despite that, Golden Casket still made nearly £360k.

The firm's turnover also rose by £850k to £22.5 million over the same period.

That included a modest £56k increase in revenue at Morton, which had a turnover of just under £1.4m.

Mr Rae took over the reins of the Cappielow side and parent company Golden Casket from his late father Douglas, who died last June aged 87.

He said: "There were further unacceptable losses within the subsidiary company, Greenock Morton Football Club, which severely affected profitability.

"However, stringent steps have been implemented to reduce the future burden on Golden Casket moving forward. "The football club was a passion of the late chairman, however the company has significant responsibilities to the loyal members of staff who rely solely on the success of the company and difficult decisions had to be made."

Mr Rae succeeded his father as MD of the family business in 2017 before taking over at Morton last year.

Shortly after becoming chairman at Cappielow, he announced that Golden Casket would no longer prop up Morton.

He axed a three year promotion plan and instead embarked on a programme of cutbacks to help balance the books.

Mr Rae said he could no longer allow the company to take the hit for losses incurred by the football club as it impacts on the livelihoods of staff who work at the sweetie factory.

In response, supporters' group Morton Club Together was launched in June this year to help raise fresh capital for the playing squad, write off the £2.5m debt pile owed to Golden Casket and start the ball rolling on a fan ownership model at Cappielow.

According to the company's accounts, there were 93 members of staff employed across the group - an increase of six employees.

That included 48 people on the books at Morton - three more than in 2017.

Mr Rae said 2018 had been an 'extremely challenging year' with the business affected by the weak pound and poor Euro exchange rate but that the One Pounders and Millions brands continue to be hugely successful.

He added that he does not believe Brexit - with or without a deal - will 'unduly affect' the firm over the next 12 months.

Mr Rae also paid tribute to his late father, who started Golden Casket 60 years ago, in the company's annual accounts, saying he had been a 'huge influence' on the business and his family.