Wednesday 16 October 2019

Supermac's ask Galway: Where did the money go?

Sponsors seek clarity on how €1.5m was spent amid calls for investigations to be made public

Pat McDonagh
Pat McDonagh

Conor McKeon

Galway GAA sponsors Supermac's are seeking clarification from the Galway County Board as to how sponsorship monies have been spent over the past five years.

The fast-food retailer has also requested the publication of two separate financial reports and disclosed that they first "raised financial concerns with the Galway County Board four years ago".

In a statement released online last night, Supermac's - Galway's primary shirt sponsor - took the unprecedented step of revealing a breakdown of their financial support to Galway GAA since 2015, "following questions by the general public and delegates".

"Supermac's would like to seek clarification from the Galway County Board as to how this money was spent," the statement reads.

In total, the company - which is owned by well-known Ballinasloe businessman Pat McDonagh, - has contributed €1,599,426 in direct and ancillary sponsorship over that five-year period.

Last year, county board treasurer Mike Burke conducted an internal report, which contained a number of recommendations but was not published for legal reasons.

The second, an independent audit carried out by Mazars on behalf of Croke Park, carried 39 findings and recommendations.

Unsupported expenses, unapproved credit card use and unaccounted for complimentary tickets are among the 17 findings Mazars categorised as being "high-risk" issues.

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Officer expenses totalled €45,000 in 2016, while a ticket debt of almost €500,000 was also allowed to accrue.

"Supermac's is calling for these investigations to be made public immediately," the statement says.

"The vast majority of the Galway GAA public and mentors, who give their time voluntarily for the promotion and administration of our games and the welfare of our players, deserve no less."

Galway's finances have come under sharp scrutiny over the last two years.

They have been servicing a €3.1m loan from Central Council after the purchase of the 103-acre site in Mountain South outside Athenry, initially earmarked for a proposed centre of excellence, which was bought for €2.5m in 2008 and sold last year for €800,000.

In July, former London footballer and Galway native Mark Gottsche was appointed as the new finance and operations manager for Galway GAA.

The position was created in response to the accepted mismanagement of the county's finances.

Last December, at a fiery county convention, Burke slammed people "within Galway GAA" who "put every barrier and obstacle" in his way of getting to the truth of their financial problems.

Members of the Galway GAA executive were unavailable for comment last night when contacted by the Irish Independent.

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