FERGUSON'S shipyard made a loss of nearly £100m in just four months after the Scottish Government stepped in to nationalise the crisis-hit operation.

Financial documentation reveals that the deficit is linked to a modified programme for completing the two heavily delayed Caledonian MacBrayne ferries central to the yard's problems.

It has also emerged that the government — which previously provided a £30m loan to Ferguson's when in private ownership — injected a further £17m into the business after taking it over.

This included £10m towards the construction of the unfinished ferries, which are now more than five years behind schedule.

The latest news of the yard's financial state — which comes after it was revealed that government-appointed turnaround director Tim Hair was paid £790,000 last year — has sparked a call from an election candidate for new leadership.

Chris McEleny of the Alba Party, who last month called for Mr Hair to resign, said: "The only reason Ferguson's is still open is because of the dedication of their shop stewards and workforce.

"Some political parties may take credit whereas others use the yard to score political points.

Chis McEleny outside Ferguson Marine, Port Glasgow. ..Christopher McEleny Ferguson Marine.

Chis McEleny outside Ferguson Marine, Port Glasgow. ..Christopher McEleny Ferguson Marine.

"The workforce deserves better.

"Ferguson's has the potential to expand to thousands of jobs if the right leadership is put in place, backed up by the political will of government.

"The Scottish Government has the power to directly award the construction of the renewal of the entire CalMac fleet to the yard

"Inverclyde needs someone in parliament that will demand this for our area."

It is understood that the revised vessel delivery programme created a deficit of £94.5m.

But boss Mr Hair, in a letter to Holyrood's rural economy and connectivity committee - which has been probing the ferries procurement fiasco - insisted that the loss doesn't reflect the yard's performance.

Describing the matter as an 'accounting loss' which will soon be 'reversed', Mr Hair said: "With the yard being brought into public ownership, the Scottish Government, working with Ferguson Marine and CMAL, has made some contractual changes to reflect the most appropriate financial arrangements for the project going forward.



"As a result of these contractual changes, the reported loss will not be realised and will therefore be reversed in the accounts for the year ending March 31, 2021, which will show a corresponding profit.

"Both the 2020 loss and the 2021 profit are simply accounting matters that are not reflective of the underlying performance of the shipyard and do not have any impact on the estimated costs to complete the ferries."

The Telegraph revealed last month that public spending watchdog Audit Scotland is to launch an investigation into the financial management of the ferries contract and also look at the remuneration packages of senior employees.

Inverclyde businessman Sandy Easdale — who previously looked into acquiring Ferguson's — has declared the situation at the yard a 'national embarrassment'.

It was revealed recently that the government's £30m loan, described as a bid to 'further diversify' the business when it was still being privately run, included a 'right to buy' condition which paved the way for nationalisation.

Amid recruitment uncertainty following a bid to add 120 skilled tradespeople to the yard's workforce, the latest update on the progress of MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 from Mr Hair was that it was not possible to give a 'definitive schedule for completion'.

Ferguson's said it could not make further comment on the reasons for the financial loss due to pre-election purdah rules.

The Scottish Government declined to comment, saying it was 'an operational matter for the yard'.