Croke Park finances hold steady

Fri, Nov 9, 2012, 00:00

Croke Park’s finances have held steady for this year, according to the GAA’s Finance Officer, Tom Ryan. Although the accounts for 2012 have yet to be drawn up, the overall picture hasn’t changed dramatically from last year.

The association, for accounting reasons, has switched its financial year on to the same basis as counties and provinces, whose year ends in October.

“It’s not hugely different,” Ryan told The Irish Times, “but we’re aware that plenty of counties are finding it hard going in terms of fund raising and sponsorship but we’ve been lucky this year in that attendances have held up reasonably well.”

He is critical, however, of spending on county teams. “The levels of spending continue to be very high and counties are slow to cut back, so there’s a lag effect. Only two counties will win senior All-Irelands but in football there are about half a dozen who believe they’re in the shake-up, so the pressure to spend is intense.”

Last year’s Central Council accounts showed income of €46.9 million, lower than every year since 2006 – allowing that the figures for 2007-10 are distorted by the revenue from rugby and soccer internationals and reaching a high of €67.7 million in 2009 – and this year’s figure will be around the same – maybe a little higher when the impact of the All-Ireland hurling final replay is taken into account. He believes, however, that the GAA will have to get used to gate receipts continuing at around the levels of the mid-2000s. Last year’s take was €24.2 million, the lowest since 2005 and down from a high of €31.5 million in 2007.

Ryan points out that these receipts effectively take into account higher levels of spending on marketing and promotion. The number of promotional packages available for matches has grown in recent years as the GAA prioritises the maintenance of attendance figures over revenue.

Amongst those promotions was the cutting of ticket prices for the All-Ireland hurling final replay between Kilkenny and Galway. “Roughly we took in about 70 per cent of what we’d normally take for an All-Ireland but it was worth doing and I was even a little surprised at how positively the initiative was received.”

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