Wednesday 16 October 2019

Further twist in Mayo funding row as Supporters' Foundation chief eyes big sponsorship deal

Tim O'Leary
Tim O'Leary
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Mayo GAA's ongoing funding row has taken another twist with the chairman of the county's International Supporters' Foundation - the group currently withholding €250,000 in funding from the county board - writing to the county expressing an interest in bidding for the naming rights to MacHale Park.

New York-based trader Tim O'Leary, who has been a major backer of Mayo GAA in recent years, emailed the county's commercial manager Tom Reilly expressing interest in submitting a tender for the package, which also includes being the main sponsor on county jerseys.

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Elverys hold the naming rights until the end of next season and are widely expected to renew their deal but O'Leary has asked for "a copy of the tender documents along with your bid assessment process".

"It has come to my attention that Mayo GAA are in the process of seeking submissions for commercial sponsorship of the various teams to include the senior team and the naming rights to MacHale Park," read the letter, which was signed by O'Leary.

"Can I ask that you accept this letter as an expression of my interest in submitting a tender for the sponsorship package. Can I ask that you please forward me a copy of the tender documents along with your bid assessment process.

"I trust that the CB will run a professional bid process with relevant governance structures in place. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience," concluded the letter.

Last month a highly critical letter, seen by the Irish Independent, stated the foundation had ceased funding the board "until appropriate governance structures are put in place".

The Mayo GAA International Supporters’ Foundation offered to provide financial support toward the creation of an academy facility and a centre of excellence.

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However, the row erupted after the foundation said it hadn’t been supplied with business plans for either project and in a letter to the board, the foundation stated it would be withholding funds. O’Leary has already contributed €415,000 toward the county’s cause since last year.

The contents of that letter were not dealt with at last month’s county board meeting though Mayo GAA board treasurer Kevin O’Toole told delegates that he intended to reply to the allegations made in the statement at the October meeting, which takes places next Wednesday.

O’Toole claimed that the Foundation’s letter contained “a huge amount of misinformation”.

“I will have a line-by-line reply, in chronological order, of the moving sands of the moving sands,” he said.

“Because there are more moving sands in the Mayo Foundation than there is in the Sahara.”

When contacted for comment about this week’s correspondence from O’Leary, a spokesperson for the Mayo board stated: “To be fair to all our sponsors, that is commercially sensitive information. It’s not something we’ll be putting in the public domain.”

Irish Independent

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