independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Greyhound board's criticised over 'basic errors' in stadium project

THE Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has been accused of making basic mistakes after the costs of constructing a new stadium and headquarters spiralled to the stage where it now has difficulty repaying loans.

The commercial semi-state body is currently only paying back interest on a portion of €22m owed to its bank, AIB, following the development of the headquarters in Limerick, which was completed in 2010.

A planned Limerick development was originally expected to cost €10m in 2000. However, a different stadium project was later built at another site in the city at a cost of €17.4 million.

The Dail's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, heard borrowings had jumped from €11.1m in 2007 to €22.2m last year.

Committee member and Labour TD Derek Nolan said the level of borrowing raised serious questions over the management of the project.

"The borrowings have got to a stage where you are not able to manage them. You are on interest only," he said.

The IGB's chief financial officer Michael Murnane said the interest-only agreement had been reached with its bank in 2009. He said the board hoped to resume paying off the capital from 2014 and to reduce borrowings by €5m by 2017.

Mr Nolan said there were "serious questions over the management of the project", with "basic legal mistakes" and "basic construction and project management mistakes made".

DEFENDED

However, IGB chief executive Adrian Neilan defended the development, insisting it was not over budget and that investment in stadia had been "needed and overdue".

He admitted the new track in Limerick was not performing in line with financial projections due to the financial downturn.

The new track recorded a loss of €30,000 last year.

Irish Independent

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