Meath County Board won't have a treasurer in situ for the next five weeks at a time when their finances are under extreme pressure, with a €180,000 annual deficit reported to the annual convention.
The deficit contrasts with a €50,000-plus surplus at the end of the 2011 financial year. Several factors have contributed towards the dramatic turnaround, including a drop in sponsorship and gate receipts, and a huge hike in the upkeep of Pairc Tailteann and the county's centre of excellence in Dunganny.
The outgoing treasurer for the last five years, Pat Clerkin, failed in his bid to become the new chairman of the county board and the vacancy he left behind was not filled. It has now been left over until the adjourned convention reconvenes on January 14. All three main officers in Meath – chairman Barney Allen, secretary Cyril Creavin and Clerkin – have departed because of the five-year rule.
Clerkin did not exercise the facility available to a treasurer to continue for another two years.
The absence of a treasurer only serves to compound a financial situation that the board's auditor, Oliver Cassells, warned was "a serious wake-up call."
Gate receipts dropped by almost €90,000 from the previous year to €246,872, while sponsorship of the county team was reduced to €110,000 from €190,000 in 2011.
Overall income dropped from €1.2m to €1.13m.
But the big lift in expenditure is of even more concern with €1.31m spent compared to €1.15m.
The upkeep of grounds jumped by €92,000 to €324,323, while team expenses were €484,614, an increase of almost €40,000 on the previous year. Meath had recorded a surplus in each of the previous four years, but their more perilous financial situation now contrasts hugely with two other Leinster counties, Westmeath and Longford, who both reported healthy profits to their convention.
Westmeath returned a profit of €64,100 off income of €584,310, more than a €300,000 turnaround on the €248,712 they audited as a loss for 2011 after dealing with a number of historical write-offs.
Longford's financial performance continues to dazzle. Outgoing chairman Pat Cahill leaves after five years in office – he is now seeking the position of Central Council delegate – with the books in a very healthy state. A surplus of €236,470 was recorded, which, for a county of Longford's size, is quite remarkable in the current economic conditions.
Income of €1.35m was set against expenditure of €1.195m (not including interest payable charges €11,576). In 2011, Longford also managed a surplus of €52,662, but this year they increased their coaching and games development spend considerably.
Meanwhile, Westmeath journalist and historian Gerry Buckley has compiled a complete history of football and hurling records in the county up to October 2012 called 'Lakeside Legends'. The book – which includes details on all Westmeath's matches – costs €10.