Financial performance exceeds expectations within come up 13%

Figures for gate receipts were the best returned since the record year of 2007, with the improvement largely accounted for by the Kilkenny-Galway All-Ireland hurling final replay.

Figures for gate receipts were the best returned since the record year of 2007, with the improvement largely accounted for by the Kilkenny-Galway All-Ireland hurling final replay.

Thu, Mar 7, 2013, 00:00

GAELIC GAMES: The GAA’s central financial performance for 2012 exceeded expectations and income was up by 13 per cent, rising €6 million to just under €53 million.

Gate receipts accounted for €2.5 million of this with a similar amount coming from an increase in commercial revenue while the bulk of the balance came from an increased disbursement from the Croke Park stadium company, which rose by €500,000 to €4 million.

Overall, the outcome, in the midst of continuing recession, was described as “solid” by Croke Park’s finance director Tom Ryan at a media conference yesterday.

This is roughly €15 million down on the GAA’s record year of 2009 when the standard rugby and soccer receipts were supplemented by additional matches – a Fifa World Cup play-off between Ireland and France and the ERC semi-final between Leinster and Munster.

The figures for gate receipts were the best returned since the record year of 2007, with the improvement largely accounted for by the Kilkenny-Galway All-Ireland hurling final going to a replay – which despite reduced ticket prices brought in €2.8 million.

In his financial report Ryan points out that even without the hurling replay, attendances held up well for the year.

“Remember that even without the replay windfall our total attendances over the summer were on a par with 2011 and our gate revenues were only slightly reduced,” he said.

Those receipts show that the gap between football and hurling revenues, both league and championship, closed significantly in 2012 with the latter almost equalling the former, admittedly with the help of an All-Ireland replay, at €12.89 million and €11.94 million respectively.

This compares with 2011 figures of €13.55 million and €8.67 million.

On a more cautious note, when asked about what concerns he had for the future, Ryan said that whereas the central finances didn’t worry him, “the things that concern us are the financial difficulties facing counties and clubs.

Running deficits

“There has been some improvement with the number of counties running deficits down from 12 or 13 to six or seven but revenues at local level have been seriously curtailed, not so much the gate revenue from local matches but the commercial income.

“We can’t meet all of the costs because although morally and ethically we have a role to play in trying to resolve the issues, legally these are not the debts of Central Council.”

In his report, Ryan writes: “Every county and club finds itself having to reduce its costs and there is a clear obligation on Central Council to make as much funding as possible available to all of our units. In 2012 the total distributed for day-to-day purposes was €11.3 million.

“That means an increase of €400,000 – almost precisely on budget. Unfortunately I am acutely aware that in many cases this is not sufficient. I also know that the solution to local finance challenges is, at least in part, local. Encouragingly the number of counties who reported operating losses in 2012 has reduced substantially from the previous year.”

Although commercial revenues were up, they came in slightly below expectations. Peter McKenna, stadium and commercial director, pointed out that in an environment, which has seen an eight per cent decline in the sponsorship market, the GAA’s take has risen by 10 per cent.

Rise in enrolment

He also drew attention to the success of many of the partnerships. Kellogg’s sponsorship of the Cúl Camps saw the summer camps advertised on the back of cereal boxes. There was a six per cent rise in enrolment and a 10 per cent rise in the company’s sales.

In relation to media rights, McKenna said that a new round of rights issues would take place at the end of this year and that there would be particular emphasis on digital development, particularly in the US and overseas generally.

One unwelcome development was the end of a four-year run-of-cost cutting at central level. Operating costs (which make up 16 per cent of Central Council expenditure) went up €1.6 million to €8.3 million and even if that was largely due to the shift in financial year from December to October – meaning that last year’s accounts were for a 10-month period – the trend of reducing costs came to an end. “After successive annual reductions it becomes increasingly difficult to identify and deliver more savings,” Ryan notes in his report.

On a more positive note the profits at Páirc An Chrócaigh Teoranta, the stadium holding company, were up a healthy 14 per cent, from €20.8 million to €23.7 million. According to McKenna sales of premium tickets and corporate suites rose by 10 per cent too €10.1 million compared to 2011.

He also added that the opening of the Croke Park Skyline walk around the stadium roof had helped.

Central Council revenue

2012: €52.8m

2011: €46.9m

*2010: €58m

*2009: €67.7m

*2008: €64.3m

*2007: €63.2m

2006: €43.9m

* 2007-10 – rugby and soccer rentals included.

Gate receipts

2012: €26.8 m

2011: €24.2m

2010: €25.8m

2009: €25.5m

2008: €26.4m

2007: €31.5m

2006: €26.5m

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