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Funds available to pay off Mayo debt but Duffy still insists it’s not a bail-out

CROKE PARK has made €1m available to the Mayo County Board to help them pay off the debt on McHale Park, Castlebar, but GAA director general Paraic Duffy insists that it is not a bail-out and will be repaid in full with interest.

Mayo have also negotiated a write-down of around €600,000 on the debt with various creditors, leaving them facing a shortfall of €1m which will be met by the Croke Park loan.

"There's nothing unusual about Croke Park making a loan available for infrastructural purposes, as is the case with McHale Park," said Duffy.

"Let's be very clear about that before the word bail-out starts doing the rounds. Our arrangement with Mayo is nothing of the kind. It's a straightforward loan, repayable with interest. Payments will start immediately.

"It's all very straightforward and is in line with other arrangements we made where infrastructural work is involved."

When all bank loans and Croke Park grants were taken into account, Mayo had a shortfall of over €1.6m on the McHale Park redevelopment, but managed to negotiate a deal with creditors which cut the outstanding debt to €1m from a total spend of around €17.5m.

While Croke Park insists that the loan is a routine business arrangement, it's the second time in a few weeks that they have become involved in a major financial transaction with a county board.

They 'advanced' €300,000 to the Kildare County Board last month in response to a cash-flow problem. However, they insist that it was money Kildare would have been paid later in the year anyway, and that the early cash injection was in response to a particular situation which arose in the county.

Croke Park will not loan money for the day-to-day running of a county, so the Kildare and Mayo situations are entirely different. However, it now remains to be seen what other requests for loans arrive in Croke Park in the coming months once other counties note the arrangement made with Mayo for the McHale Park work.