Tuesday 17 October 2017

GAA makes €154,000-a-day in bonanza year 2014

The Kilkenny-Tipperary All-Ireland final replay saw the hurling championship gross €11.6m,
beating football by €163,000. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
The Kilkenny-Tipperary All-Ireland final replay saw the hurling championship gross €11.6m, beating football by €163,000. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

GAA income increased to €56.2m last year - an average of almost €154,000 for each of the 365 days - despite a slight drop in All-Ireland championship attendances.

The figures relate exclusively to Central Council activities, with most of those centred on Croke Park. Provincial Councils and county boards run their own financial affairs.

The €56.2m yield is up €1.6m on 2013. Attendances at All-Ireland championship games dropped by 1pc (10,000) but this comes after two years of successive growth so the decrease is negligible.

All-Ireland figures are comparable with the previous two years because the senior hurling final finished level for a third successive year.

However, football was boosted by the Kerry-Mayo football semi-final replay, which attracted a crowd of 36,256 to the Limerick Gaelic Grounds.

Pronounced

The Kilkenny-Tipperary replay saw the hurling championship gross €11.6m, beating football by €163,000. Hurling's growing popularity was even more pronounced in the Allianz League, where income surged by 76pc to €1.6m.

That's €1.1m behind football, which is to be expected, given the comparative strengths of the various divisions in both codes. The vast majority of hurling income comes from Division 1A and the play-off stages, whereas football has a more even spread.

The addition of quarter-finals to the hurling league was one of the catalysts for the attendance and income increase last year, according to Tom Ryan, GAA finance director.

"Obviously, the public liked was they saw. When you have six-team groups, it means that every game matters to every county so there were no dead rubbers towards the end, which is important," he said.

"A couple of counties contributed significantly to the increase as well. We saw a good bump in Clare's attendances, which was probably a carry-on from the previous September.

"I would attribute it (overall increase) to the marketing, the ticketing controls and the teams competing. But, undoubtedly the most significant part is the structure of the competition."

Despite what Ryan described as "a stable year with encouraging signs," he warned against complacency and predicted a drop in Central Council revenues this year.

"An unprecedented run of three All-Ireland senior final replays (Galway v Kilkenny 2012, Clare v Cork 2013, Kilkenny v Tipperary 2014) will surely come to an end. Our admission prices will remain largely unchanged, so the challenge for 2015 will be to mitigate revenue reductions," said Ryan.

He also stressed that despite the current health of GAA finances nationally, problems continue in many counties and clubs.

"The fragile health of some of our units poses a threat to the collective. Our task is to ensure that we are sufficiently alert to the possibility of deteriorating circumstances," he said.

Overall championship gate receipts returned €29.4m in 2014, a marginal decrease of €85,000. Commercial revenue (media coverage, sponsorship etc) dropped by €1.2m to €16m.

However, the grant to Central Council from activities in the Croke Park stadium, which is run as a separate company, increased by €3m to €7m.

The cancellation of the Garth Brooks concerts cost Croke Park around €5m but the stadium still had an excellent year. It returned income of €28.5m, an increase of €8m on 2013.

The hire of the stadium for One Direction concerts, plus concessions for bars and catering, yielded €4.7m.

The Allianz Leagues also helped the Croke Park cause.

"A strong National League attendance at the four Spring Series games, along with the playing of the semi-finals in Croke Park, resulted in an 8pc increase in league revenue but this was offset by lower year-on-year attendances at the championship quarter-final and semi-final stages as well as having no International Rules fixture in 2014," said Peter McKenna, Croke Park stadium director.

Despite taking in €56.2m, the GAA's profit for the year was a mere €130,000. That's in line with the organisation's non-profit policy, which sees as much as possible re-invested in the Association at various levels.

Match-day and competition costs (venue rental, match officials, ticketing, insurance etc) came in at €11m, leaving a gross profit of €45m.

Most of that was spent on grants (€10.2m), county and provincial distribution (€9.9m), games development (€9.5m), operating costs (€8.9m), player welfare (€3.6m) and team costs (€2.5m).

Croke Park hosted 62 games over 29 match days in 2014, attracting total attendances of 1.07 million. When other activities are included, over 1.5 million people passed through Croke Park last year.

McKenna revealed that the two big screens in Croke Park will be replaced with HD compatible units this year.

Irish Independent

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