Wednesday 20 November 2019

Mayo supporters' club under spotlight

Daniel Carey

A member of Mayo GAA County Board says he is "deeply troubled" to learn that not all the money raised by a supporters' club appears in the Board's end-of-year accounts.

Kilmaine GAA Club delegate Kevin McDonnell said he was "quite astonished" by the revelation and "deeply troubled" by accounting processes in the GAA. "If the Revenue Commissioners came in tomorrow, would they have questions?" he asked at Monday night's meeting of Mayo GAA Board.

McDonnell was responding to a statement by supporters' club organiser Paddy Muldoon, who told the meeting the money his group raises "doesn't always go direct" to the County Board. "We pay the bills," he said and added that the supporters' club was there to "support" players and teams. Some people contribute anonymously towards Mayo football, not the County Board, he added.

Muldoon's explanation came after PJ Monaghan, chairman of a committee who looked into county finances, noted that the Mayo GAA accounts for 2008 included a return of zero from a Dublin-based supporters' club. "We've never provided less than €80,000 (a year)," said Muldoon, but Monaghan said the accounts of Mayo GAA Board didn't reflect that.

Treasurer JP Lambe said Mayo GAA Board "would be in a financial crisis" if it wasn't for the supporters' club. But Ballinrobe club delegate Alan Flannery argued that financial planning had to be "fully transparent" and said he would like to understand "what's going on in the supporters' club".

This was part of a debate on the Mayo GAA Draft Strategic Action Plan, which has called for an audit of finances as well as the appointment of a Commercial Director to raise money to pay off the €10m loan on the McHale Park development in Castlebar. The plan was drawn up by a committee chaired by broadcaster Liam Horan. Controversy has been simmering since the Board executive tried unsuccessfully to have the report's launch postponed in February.

For the most part, this week's question-and-answer session was free of the rancour that marked some of the contributions to the last Board meeting, which ended with McNicholas looking to "build bridges" with members of the review committee.

But some tension remains between the top table and the report's authors, as was clear from one exchange. "If there is a (separate County Board) Strategic Plan, we were never shown it," Horan said. "You were given it," replied Mayo GAA Board secretary Sean Feeney, but Horan responded: "No, we were given a Galway document with words crossed out."

Board chairman Paddy McNicholas said that while some of the report's recommendations were contrary to GAA rule, "70pc" would be incorporated into the Board's own strategic plan, which has to be sent to Croke Park by the summer. He asked clubs to meet and make submissions within a month.

Irish Independent

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