WEXFORD G.A.A. Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, told the annual Convention that 2013 will provide a more difficult road than 2012 as the county has very little reserve funding to go on.
While the financial logjam that the county faced entering 2012 has been broken, the annual income should there be change on the ground will not sustain the county long-term, he informed delegates in the Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy, on Monday last.
'At last year's Convention you, the delegates representing our clubs, made significant changes to the management committee especially in relation to the election of new and more importantly younger members. Your judgement was correct and I want to assure you that in the intervening twelve months the management committee has worked vary hard at transforming the county under a number of headings.
'What changed most drastically was the move away from authority vested in a very small and tight group to the delegation of authority to ratified committees and sub-groups. This decision was, and continues, to be the only hope we have of putting the county on a sound footing in the most crucial area of governance and collective responsibility,' he said.
'The management committee has experienced a steep learning curve regarding these committees and not all agree that authority should be vested in such a diverse way. However, we have worked together diligently with all accepting that we cannot have our own way on everything, and with a spirit of compromise we have moved forward. I expect even further progress from these committees in 2013 as the new system has now finally kicked in and the remaining areas of concern have been brought into the structures laid down in the Strategic Plan.'
Devereux added: 'When we first met in this room last January we laid bare the task, and work programme for the year to include two specific issues: the correction of our finances; drafting a county-specific Strategic Plan for the period 2012-2015.
'The first task was, and continues to be, onerous. The extent of our borrowings was pushed to the limit by the addition of an overdraft, extensive creditors' list and extraordinary liabilities not included in the annual audited accounts. Tonight these liabilities, and the manner by which they were settled, are clearly identified in the audited accounts.
'Later in the spring we were confronted by the spectre of unpaid revenue liabilities for a period unknown when the issue first arose. The decision of the finance committee to take the prudent business approach and opt for voluntary disclosure of revenue liabilities resulted in a significant saving of retrospective payments while closing down the possibility of hidden liabilities occurring in the future. The audited proof of these payments is also included in your Convention booklet.
'The generation of income and its ultimate dispersal is as I have said before without emotion. We either have the funding or not.' FROM BACK PAGE 'The massive task to eliminate the level of liabilities during the 2012 period was a challenge we all feared last January, but which tonight seems far less daunting.'
'The reason is simple in that we all pooled our resources. Generous help from Wexford Supporters' Clubs and Club Wexford took the pressure off immediately.
'The changes made to the championship structure, supported by a disciplined C.C.C.C. Chairman and a committed approach to gate management by the Treasurer, and his team, gave us early indications that game attendance could be a source of increased funding despite the economic background.
'Further progress was made by selective reductions in expenditure which must continue into the long term if any form of progress is to be sustained. The marketing committee gave our season ticket initiative a lot of time and effort and I am convinced that this is the ultimate long term road to follow,' he said.
'The big challenge now is what to do in 2013. There can be little doubt that we face a harder road than 2012 as we have very little reserved funding to draw on. Yes, we have broken the logjam, however the overall income for this year will not sustain us long-term should factors change on the ground.
'The shadow of approximately 250k which we spoke of last year is down by at least 70%, however I have no idea at this time where we will get the resources to bridge that gap on an ongoing basis. Our accounts show commercial income down 70k with a drop of 45k in Leinster Council grants and a small but significant drop off in National League receipts.
'Wexford has made no provision for success. We yearn for it. We criticise when we do not achieve it. But where will we fund it when it inevitably happens? Our current team expenditure takes us to the early qualifiers only. Progress after that has not been predicted in our budgets for many years, yet we seem shocked when we leave the championships early. In order to build for the future the level of income in the period 2014-2016 must increase dramatically,' the St. Patrick's (Ballyoughter) clubman warned.
'There is one final point on finance which we must recognise and that is the parallel decline in our income in tandem with the decline in our hurling status, especially over the last eight to ten years.
'Success on the hurling field is a cash cow for Wexford, of this there can be no dispute. The meteoric rise of our football standing has not generated the same level of support despite being the standard-bearers over the last number of years. The reality is that hurling income is needed to support the ongoing development of our football. We squandered the legacy of our hurling position in '96, '97 and after 2004. If we do the same now with football post the last decade we deserve to be judged harshly.
'The return of Wexford hurling to the top eight and the maintenance of our football status within the top twelve is only achievable if resourced adequately and supported by us all at every opportunity. The biggest barrier to this is infighting and failure to recognise the stark economic reality in which we are operating.'
He promised that 'the finance committee will work during 2013 to bring forward a business plan to make this happen. This plan will need to take our income stream to a place it has never been before. Rising taxes and the knockon slowing of the economy, coupled with increasing unemployment, means disposal income will continue to decrease.
'This is the well from which we must draw an income of up to €1 million per annum for the next decade. The ongoing challenge of commercial sponsorship and the burden placed on sponsors only increases the task of the finance committee further. Wexford hurling could come to the rescue if we are smart enough to make it happen.'
He told delegates that 'the second major issue highlighted for 2012 was our Strategic Plan. Launched in the spring, the Plan lays down key targets and objectives aimed at moving all aspects of the Association forward. Key among these is coaching and games development. In April we instigated a coaching review undertaken by Leinster Council to seek the opinions of all the divergent stakeholders in this important topic.
'The work of the review was extensive and consisted of numerous meetings, interviews and one-to-one conversations. In November I received a draft report which was put before the management committee for consideration. A significant number of the recommendations were already in place at publication, however the committee wanted to ensure that each detail was Wexford-specific.
'An inclusive group was given executive authority to drive the review forward with the intention that they would report to Convention. This has not been possible given the extent of the work, however I can assure you that the group will report early in the new year for implementation.'