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Friday 17 January 2020

Mayo GAA introduces reform in bid to solve financial difficulties

Tim O'Leary
Tim O'Leary
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Mayo GAA is introducing a series of financial reforms after months of controversy over governance issues.

Its county board is also seeking to enter mediation with millionaire backer Tim O'Leary who issued High Court proceedings in December seeking the return of a €150,000 donation.

The English-born options market trader wants the money back due to concerns he has over how it was spent.

A foundation he chairs is also continuing to withhold €250,000 raised for GAA projects in the county "until appropriate governance structures are put in place".

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Details of the reforms were outlined at a meeting of the board on Monday, where a financial report was given by new treasurer Valerie Murphy.

According to minutes seen by the Irish Independent, the state of the county's finances was described as "not very good". The meeting heard the board is faced with having to make a loan repayment and a payment to the Revenue Commissioners this month and is looking to draw down funds from Croke Park and a London-based fundraising arm.

Among the reforms being introduced is the introduction of a purchase order system, where nothing can be bought without having a PO number. The board is also in the process of trying to get set up on Croke Park's accounting system.

The changes come after Mayo GAA's latest accounts showed a €83,000 loss for the year ended October 2019, despite having income of €3.5m in that period.

Much of its financial struggles are linked to the servicing of a sizeable debt linked to the redevelopment of MacHale Park in Castlebar. Repayments amounted to €409,572 last year.

But Mr O'Leary has also been critical of the board in relation to sponsorship issues and has sought a commitment that future sponsorship deals be put through a competitive bid process.

The meeting heard the board wanted to resolve outstanding issues and would make a full statement once mediation has been completed.

Irish Independent

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