GAA cut prices of league tickets
The GAA has begun cutting the cost of attending games, with a 13.3pc drop in the admission prices for forthcoming league fixtures.
From February the cost of attending a league game in the first and second divisions of the NFL and first division of the NHL will drop from €15 to €13.
Further falls in lower divisions have also been flagged with €10 now enough to gain entry to Division 3 and Division 4 NFL games and just €5 admission to lower-level hurling games.
The changes were announced at Saturday's Central Council meeting, which heard a presentation from Croke Park's financial director Tom Ryan that focused on the need for further belt-tightening.
Ryan outlined how revenues were expected to be down on 2010 figures, which saw crowds at championship games actually increase against the odds for the second successive year.
Gate receipts dropped in 2009 by almost €1m and this figure is expected to fall further when figures are released in March. But revenues more or less held up from the €68m figure for 2009 reported last March.
The anticipated drop in ticket prices across the board has come, however, and the further squeeze on the domestic economy has yielded more financial warnings to the GAA.
The GAA will now undergo a consultation process with provincial councils over the next three weeks to determine what cuts they can make in relation to admission prices.
However, they may meet with resistance in some of the provinces who are determined to hang on to current rates, particularly at the top end for provincial finals. All four provincial councils will meet ahead of the next Central Council meeting on February 12, which is expected to determine new ticket pricing structures for the championships.
Provincial councils can set their own pricing structures for championship matches and some have been innovative in how they package them. The Leinster Council have been very successful in selling family packages and this model has been successfully used by the GAA at central level over the last few years.
But cutting ticket prices could cost jobs and provincial councils will be mindful of that when they meet to decide on pricing structures. Leinster for instance employ some 90 coaches and having to drop ticket prices could mean loss of employment for some of those.
Last November, GAA president Christy Cooney outlined that the association would look at pricing structures and said that they would more than likely be revised downwards.
On the basis of how league admission prices have been trimmed there is an expectancy that much the same percentage figure will be applied to qualifier and quarter-final games at least. The GAA has brought in innovative packaging that allows children into championship matches for just €5 right up to All-Ireland semi-finals.
Rival sports have been approaching the costing of their games in much the same forensic way. The IRFU lost out heavily when they priced the November Internationals too high, creating the embarrassing situation of empty seats at the first full international at the Aviva Stadium. They subsequently promised to review prices.
The FAI scored a PR success by charging just €10 into the FAI Cup final, an occasion that drew a crowd of some 36,000. The GAA has not lifted its prices for championship games for five years.
On Saturday, Central Council delegates were given an outline as to how falling revenues from gates this season would impact on overall revenue. From income of approximately €70m there was just a 1pc operation margin.
Meanwhile, at the next Central Council meeting in February, approval will be sought for the five-year €8m-plus agreement between the GAA and the GPA. It was originally intended to rubber-stamp it last Saturday but a decision was taken instead to circulate the document to counties.
A joint press conference is expected tomorrow to outline the accord which will focus on a funding arrangement that allows the GPA to take over all player-welfare responsibilities within the association.