THE company behind the National Ploughing Championships last year recorded a pre-tax loss of €413,396 in spite of bumper crowds at September's event.
That is according to new accounts for the National Ploughing Association of Ireland (NPAI) which show that the pre-tax loss of €413,396 in the 12 months to the January 31 this year followed a pre-tax loss of €494,370 for the prior year.
The combined pre-tax loss of €907,766 for the two years came ahead of the decision to cancel the 2020 event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last September, 297,000 people attended the 88th National Ploughing Championships at Fenagh, Co Carlow.
But the 2018 event at Tullamore was blown off course by Storm Ali, forcing organisers to cancel the biggest day of the event.
Last year, revenues rebounded, increasing by 12.6pc from €4.97m to €5.6m.
Anna Marie McHugh, managing director of the National Ploughing firm, blamed high costs for last year's loss. She stated: "We were disappointed with the income figure considering the attendance which was just short of 300,000.
"We had our best year ever - attendance: phenomenal, weather: phenomenal - but we still expected the losses, in terms of the outgoings, were not going to match the income at the rate we were charging."
She added: "We are eating into our reserves now because we haven't had profits in a few years and that is something we have to watch. We have our reserves and that is what they are for."
She said the current €20 adult admission price would increase to €25 for 2021, with various offers available.
With this year's event cancelled, she said: "This year our spend will be €700,000 to €800,000 on things we can't avoid and our income will be zero."
The NPAI will host the World Ploughing Championships next year and make the ploughing championships a four-day event for its 90th anniversary.
Ms McHugh stated: "If we have a break-even event next year with all of the uncertainty around, that would be a good outcome."
However, in spite of the loss last year, the firm's balance remains strong.
At the end of January this year, the firm was sitting on accumulated profits of €12.97m. The firm's cash pile increased from €1.7m to €2.18m and its investment totalled €10m.