Tuesday 23 May 2017

FAI's debt level drops to €50m in modest year

SEN RYAN

THE FAI reported a small surplus -- a net profit of €57,000 -- for 2010, the Association's AGM was told in Ennis yesterday.

The operating surplus was €3.6m, and €1.4m was given in grants to affiliates. CEO John Delaney revealed that the Association's debt is now €50m as of this month, down from the €63m reported in the 2010 accounts.

The modest 2010 profit compares with profits of €3.6m in 2009, when the figures benefited from higher TV revenue due to high-profile World Cup games against Italy and France. In 2010, the senior international team played six home games, but the first two were played in the RDS as the Aviva Stadium had not come on stream.

Where before the FAI's financial health depended largely on the international team, now, the annual report states, "revenue from the commercial portfolio accounts for two-thirds of the Association's income".

The FAI had budgeted to break even in 2010, and the small profit prompted more upbeat remarks regarding the bank debt incurred by the Aviva Stadium. "The Association has invested €88.9m in the Aviva Stadium," Delaney reported, "giving us joint ownership of a €411m stadium and we remain on target to return to a debt-free status in 2020."

The two factors which are expected to help in that regard are the €40m due from UEFA's centralised TV deal from 2014, and the renewal or re-sale of corporate seats the same year.

With naming rights to the stadium up for offer again in 2020, and the renewal or re-sale of Vantage seats the same year, plus UEFA Hat-trick funding every four years, Delaney is confident that the Association will meet its 2020 target and, he added, "will see us ahead of our repayment schedules for the next 12 months."

There are still 3,000 Vantage seats for sale, he said, but the focus in the past 12 months has been on season tickets, and 6,000 have been sold.

Delaney also believes that the expansion to 24 teams qualifying for the lucrative Euro Championships from 2016 will be to the benefit of the FAI, although qualification for major finals is not factored into the budgets drawn up for the next 10 years.

Turnover for the year was €39.3m, of which €2.5m was invested in underage international teams, with notable successes for the under 17 girls team, which qualified for the European final and reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, and the under 19 boys team, which contests the European finals this month. The amateur team also qualified for the final of the UEFA Regions Cup.

Significantly, the move to the Aviva Stadium from Croke Park saw savings in international match costs to the tune of €6.6m.

Administration costs were also reduced by €0.3m, following a restructuring of staff, which resulted in a net 12 positions being made redundant. This year is expected to see further savings in administration as a result of salary cuts taken by staff in January.

On the domestic front, Delaney said that the Association would maintain the policy of €10 and €5 tickets for the FAI Cup final, which proved such a hit last year, attracting 36,000 to the game between Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers.

In the 2010 season, he reported, 11 of the 21 League clubs returned a profit, and a further six clubs had losses of less than €20,000. Overall losses within the League have been reduced from almost €7m at the time of the merger in 2006 to €0.87m.

Delaney, who confirmed that he had taken a cut of €50,000 from his €450,000 salary, also revealed that a game against England is in the pipeline, but is dependent on the World Cup draw in Rio at the end of the month. He said he had a date in mind, but he wouldn't reveal it.

Asked about the Carling Nations Cup tournament, he said that it had made a profit, but not as much as it might.

Discussions are ongoing with the English FA following an invitation to participate in a five-nations tournament in 2013, the 150th anniversary of the FA.

Pádraig Smith, the FAI's internal compliance officer, who has been interim head of finance for the past year since the departure of Mark O'Leary, informed the AGM that he had been appointed financial analysis manager with UEFA, and would be taking up office in October. In his new role he will govern teams competing in the Champions League and the Europa League.

Sunday Indo Sport

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