Friday 18 October 2019

Collateral damage for GAA who miss out on 'substantial' cash boost


GAA director-general Páraic Duffy. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
GAA director-general Páraic Duffy. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

The IRFU will take the main hit from Ireland's failed attempt to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup but the GAA faces collateral damage too.

Several of their county grounds featured in the bid which, if successful, would have resulted in major upgrades. Most of it would have been funded by Rugby World Cup and government finance and, in addition, ground rent for the games would also have flowed into the Croke Park coffers.

GAA director-general Páraic Duffy said it was a major setback for Ireland to lose out on staging such a big event and also spoke of the direct losses to the GAA.

"It's very disappointing news but given the evaluation report a few weeks ago it was always going to be difficult to get enough support.

"The oversight committee tried their best over the last few weeks to have the position reversed but they haven't succeeded and I feel sorry for them.

"They had worked very hard over a number of years on this project. I know at first hand the quality of the bid they had put together and the effort that was put in so I share their disappointment," he said.

The GAA's Central Council and Congress backed the bid from the start on the basis that it would have been in the national interest.

"We would have gained financially too. There was an agreement in place in relation to the renting of our grounds. It would have brought in a substantial amount of money.

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"All the grounds would have benefited from that income and secondly it would have meant upgrading some of the grounds.

"There would be a further opportunity to turn the temporary upgrading into something permanent. That's all passed so we still have the problem of how to upgrade the grounds that clearly need it," said Duffy.

The GAA will now have to review its stadium strategy, specifically how to finance developments which are required at several venues.

"Work needs to be done but obviously it will take a lot longer than if the rugby bid had been successful," Duffy added.

One silver lining for the GAA centres on the completion of the Páirc Uí Chaoimh redevelopment, which was awarded €30m in Government funding.

"I'm not sure what level of funding we would have got if the World Cup bid hadn't been on the horizon," said Duffy. The chances are that it would have been considerably less.

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