Sunday 26 January 2020

Teams have more money than sense

Eamonn Sweeney

Eamonn Sweeney

Perhaps the news that half a dozen counties -- Down, Roscommon, Louth, Westmeath, Carlow and Sligo -- currently find themselves without a main sponsor might help prompt a return to financial sanity in the GAA.

Because it's remarkable that while the Celtic Tiger era is dead and buried, the spend spend spend mentality it gave rise to in our biggest amateur sporting organisation remains alive and well with Dublin announcing that they spent €2 million preparing county teams this year, the highest figure in GAA history.

The Dubs can afford that kind of spending because a successful team in the capital is a magnet for sponsorship. Everyone wants to get in on the act. Witness last week's deal whereby Aer Lingus became the county's 'carrier of choice.' A tremendously important deal obviously, given Dublin's extensive Champions League commitments.

But there are other counties spending money they can hardly afford. The GAA's ban on training before the New Year was widely disparaged as coming about because county boards just want to save money. But if they do, who can blame them? Enormous sums of money are being spent on senior teams which haven't a hope of winning anything, big sums being shelled out to attract managers who at best may bring about minimal improvements.

Meanwhile, lower down the food chain, outside managers continue to rake it in from clubs with more money than sense. We now have a situation where a manager is earning more for conducting a couple of training sessions a week than his unemployed players are getting on the dole. And there are plenty of players on the dole now.

Club lotteries are taking in less money than they have in years, insurance costs are soaring and clubs are struggling to cover overdrafts and repay the big loans they used to finance ground developments when times were good and looked like they'd be good forever.

Under the circumstances it's the height of irresponsibility to fork out scarce cash to a trainer from elsewhere when there's someone within your own ranks who could do as good a job. Some outside managers have steered teams to county titles, but there are a lot more who did nothing of the sort.

The Tiger era is gone but one of its key tenets, that the more money you spend on something the better it is, has remained embedded in the national psyche.

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