Wednesday 17 January 2018

39 games make money... 331 don't

GAA president Christy Cooney with Croke Park Stadium Director Peter McKenna, right, at the publication of the GAA's annual accounts in
Croke Park yesterday. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
GAA president Christy Cooney with Croke Park Stadium Director Peter McKenna, right, at the publication of the GAA's annual accounts in Croke Park yesterday. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile

Only a handful of games run centrally by the GAA make any profit, Croke Park's finance director Tom Ryan has revealed.

Of the 370 games run by Central Council -- from mainstream championships and qualifiers to Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher competitions to National Leagues -- only 39 were profitable, according to Ryan's figures.

Of that 39, he estimated that just eight or nine generated anything significant that has helped to bankroll the rest of the competition programme.

Ryan stopped sort of calling for a reduction in the number of competitions being held.

But he made it clear that from a financial point of view, there was no room for any further competitions on the calendar in the current financial situation.

He made his observations as the GAA reported 'break even' figures for 2010 despite a €10m drop in revenues from the rent of Croke Park. This drop had been anticipated and cushioned in terms of what the GAA spent on capital expenditure.

The GAA raised €58m in income, €26m in gate receipts, €19.75m in commercial revenue, €4m in state funding and €8.5m from other income, including €7m from Croke Park stadium and €95,000 in fines.

In expenditure, the most significant drop was in capital expenditure, down to €11m from €23m in 2009.


"It's a positive year and there are an awful lot of things to be encouraged about when you look at what we have achieved. But at the same time that's not to say that 2011 won't be a year full of challenges too," said Ryan.

And he has warned of tougher tests to come in the months ahead.

"There is no degree of complacency. The positives are that attendance and revenues are intact, probably more so than we would have anticipated," he said.

"It's a very comfortable place to be to have signed commercial agreements with broadcasters and sponsors for the coming year, because that insulates us from the vagaries of gate receipts and how they might go up or down.

"Our costs are under control and have been falling in recent year," he declared.

But the imbalance between games that make a profit and those that don't was striking.

"Very few games actually make any money. There are only eight or nine of those in Croke Park, Semple Stadium or the major grounds around the county that generate anything," said Ryan.

"The vast, vast predominance of matches that are staged don't make return.

"That's something we have to really bear in mind when we talk about admission prices in particular," he conceded.

"That's not to say you'd dispense with Christy Ring or anything like that, but it's important people need to know the financial performance behind all of these.

"We wouldn't like to see a lot more competitions added, at least without recognition of all of the cost involved."

The stability of gate receipts and only a small drop in commercial revenues meant that 2010 figures, outside the money from Croke Park's hosting of the international games, remained steady.

"The biggest thing that drives our revenues is gate receipts because they don't have a commercial value if you don't have people going through the turnstiles," explained Ryan.

"Our attendances held up fairly well, with 1.4 million (2pc down on 2009) attending the matches all year. It is difficult to compare year on year because, in particular, this year a lot of things went in our favour, which if they had gone the other way we could have been telling a slightly different story.

"There were replays in three of the four provinces -- Kerry/Cork, the Munster hurling final, Offaly/Galway in hurling and Meath and Laois in football.

"They were all at provincial level, but they did have an impact on overall attendance figures -- there is no point denying that."

Significant cost-cutting measures were applied at administrative level that resulted in €1m in reductions from €9.4m to €8.15m.

But the cost of staging matches went in the other direction by €1m because of a huge spike in the rent of venues, almost €1.2m.

As to whether the GAA will reduce admission prices for championship matches, Ryan said the matter would be under review.

"We have done some market research as to what it is that gets people to go to matches or what it is that maybe precludes people from going to matches," he said. "And there's far more to it than purely the admission prices.

"As we outlined there, our fortunes depend very much on admission prices on a very small number of games really, so tinkering with those is not something we would do lightly.

"You talk about fuel prices, the cost of meals for families, all of those things, they're outside of our direct control -- and to a certain extent, what you want to guard against is that you lop of another fiver or whatever off the admission price and all you're doing is sacrificing revenue."

Irish Independent

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