FAI’s finances continue to look bleak post Euro 2012
Association’s target of debt repayment by 2020 appears to be hugely ambitious
The Ireland game against Germany at the Aviva Stadium which was the most lucrative game of Ireland’s two year qualifying cycle. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Despite the upbeat assessment of the association’s financial situation in the directors’ report that accompanies them, the latest accounts for the FAI appear to suggest that the organisation’s revenues are under enormous pressure with the scale of the drop in last year’s turnover masked by exceptional payments relating to Euro 2012 from Uefa, which barely get a mention.
The accounts, which were sent to clubs and affiliates around the country this week ahead of the association’s agm in Wicklow, reveal that turnover for 2012 fell to €39.66 million from €45.13 million for the previous 12 months.
In the directors’ report that accompanies the document it is stated that “the decrease of revenue was driven by a lower number of home matches, we had only one competitive home match in 2012”.
This is certainly bound to have been a major factor with the senior national team having only played four games at the Aviva stadium during the calendar year, three of which were friendlies. The fact that the one competitive game was against Germany, however, should have ensured that that was comfortably the most lucrative game of Ireland’s two-year qualifying cycle with a higher than normal attendance and very substantial television rights revenue – whatever the timing of the payments relating to the latter.
Send off game
Another, meanwhile, was a pre-tournament send off game, in this instance against Bosnia Herzegovina, which would normally be expected to be a big, and fairly financially rewarding, occasion. The collapse in ticket sales for international games and the resulting drop in revenues is clearly a problem, however, although the flip side is that it means having less home games is not actually as significant as it might have been in better times when games routinely sold out and at higher prices.
A more interesting, or perhaps alarming, aspect of the accounts is that Euro 2012 barely gets a mention of any description with only a passing reference to the fact that Ireland qualified for a major championship for the first time in decade made in a paragraph relating to the association’s continued investment in youth development.
Sponsorship revenue, it is noted, was grown from €7.2 million in 2011 to €8.1 million last year “despite a very difficult economic environment” but no information is provided with regard to how much, if any, or all, of this relates to bonuses payable on the basis of qualification for Euro2012. It would be normal to expect that such clauses are built into the FAI’s commercial contracts and its chief executive, John Delaney, has certainly suggested in the past that its biggest deals do contain them.
Most starkly of all, however, there is no mention whatsoever of the €8 million that the association was due from Uefa as a result of its participation at Euro2012. The FAI cut back significantly on the amount of information contained in its published accounts several years ago and now reveals very little more to delegates than it is legally required to but as with sponsorship revenues, the larger Sports Council and other government grants do get a mention.
Uefa’s accounts for 2011/’12 strongly suggest, however, that this money has been paid along with a “one-off payment of €3 million for investment, social and grassroots projects”.
Every four years
The €3 million forms part of the HatTrick programme which provides a significant stream of income annually to associations with these larger payments made once every four years on the basis that Uefa’s turnover effectively doubles in the year of a European championship with last year’s tournament responsible for €1.39 billion of the organisation’s €2.8 billion revenue.