The state of the County GAA Board finances was one of the dominating issues at the annual Convention held in The Dome recently with a deficit of €219,000 having materialised for 2011 despite having managed to cut expenditure by some €700,000 on the year before.
Treasurer Eamon Buckley joined with Auditor Ronan Spain, of Spain, Fewer and Quinlian, Thurles in taking the delegates through the accounts in some detail. However, there was little guidance required when the stark reality of the figures jumped out of the financial statement in black and white.
Gate receipts have dropped by some €160,000 over the last two years; county teams administration expenses topped the €1.17 million mark- down by €61,000; income overall fell by €800,000 despite commercial income rising by €20,000; while expenditure fell by €700,000.
“The County Board Executive has looked at this very closely and we are planning to bring a cost reduction programme before County Board in January for approval. This is necessary because the situation could get out of hand very quickly otherwise,” Treasurer Eamon Buckley (Lattin Cullen) said.
The Premier Plan which was launched by the Board back in August, suggested that the Board had to “put in place an effective cost management procedure to ensure that all expenditure receives prior approval and that ongoing outlay is monitored. A structured fund-raising strategy be drawn up which ranges across sponsorship, gate receipts, corporate sources and grant aid”.
And Secretary Timmy Floyd also referred to the state of the finances in his wide ranging and very detailed Secretary’s Report.
“We are facing in to a few very difficult years and stark realities must be faced if we are to keep our heads above water. The downturn in the economy is having a serous effect on County finances and fairly drastic measures may have to be taken to remain viable. We cannot close our eyes to what’s happening around us and we must adjust our spending to meet the reduced levels of income we are now experiencing,” he wrote.
Most dramatic fall
Gate receipts for County championships and County leagues have dropped from €404k in 2009 to €323k in 2010 to €263k in 2011. The most dramatic fall is in the Senior Hurling Championship with a drop of €100k over the last three years. Commercial income is holding up and the Board is fortunate to have sponsors like Skoda, O’Neills, Lucozade, Tipperary Spring Water and Thurles Milk all supporting Tipperary GAA.
“The whole area of development squads, gym work, strength and conditioning and analysis has gathered a lot of momentum and is having a serious effect on our team support costs. We are a county that gives equal support to our hurling and football teams, unlike other counties and we have to admit it has paid off with the recent success of our minor and U21 football teams. Unfortunately this is not reflected in attendance figures at our inter-county and club championship football games. The breakdown of our 2011 club gate receipts show €226k for hurling but just €37k for football. The share out of the Allianz league pot gives Tipperary €80k for hurling and €17k for football. This is not surprising, judging by the paltry few diehards that attend our Allianz football league games, usually two or three hundred spectators,” Timmy Floyd said.
Outgoing Chairman Barry O’Brien aslo addressed the issue of the finances and admitted that they did not make for pretty reading and was not the kind of report he wanted to present to Convention.
“We had five day-long meetings back in January with the view to cutting our expenditure but we were unable to bring up income enough to offset our losses. We are receiving the rewards for our efforts on the field of play but the reality is that we are no longer collecting enough money to offset our costs, and some serious decisions have to be made,” he told delegates.
The Fr Sheehy’s clubman added that the main bulk of expenditure goes on team development and Coaching and Games Development, and he reminded the attendance that any cuts they may make could have a big impact on these areas. “We need to be very mindful about this and we need to remind ourselves that we are suffering hugely because consumer spending is down across all sectors. I am asking you not to panic. This is a serious problem and we will examine it thoroughly in early January and come back to the Board about it,” he said.
Former Chairman of the Board Con Hogan (Marlfield) said that if Tipperary “want to dine at the top table, we must be prepared to spend money.” However, he added that a county cannot spend what they do not have and he encouraged clubs to very very prudent also when it comes to engaging in development work, or costly projects.
“The deficits simply cannot go on. Almost every single aspect of expenditure has been reduced. Our income is down and we must plan for it staying down . We are all in this together and we must understand the collective responsibility we have to ensure that our finances remain in order”, Mr Hogan said.