GAA reap rewards of magical campaign
Hurling outstrips football for first time as gate receipts show healthy increase
The success of the 2013 hurling championship has been reflected in the GAA's annual accounts where gate receipts have outstripped the All-Ireland football championship for the first time.
The accounts do not incorporate provincial championships but take in qualifiers, All-Ireland quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.
With €2.8m generated from the hurling replay between Clare and Cork it brought total hurling gate receipts to €11,918,974, a 12pc increase on 2012 and around €50k more than a much greater number of football games yielded. Even with the Kilkenny/Galway replay factored in, 2012 figures for hurling did not surpass football with almost €300,000 in the difference, €10,943,294 for football, €10,649,887 for hurling.
The average attendance for the 15 All-Ireland hurling championship matches played in 2013, attended by 382,338 people, was 25,489 compared to 15,996 for 31 football games attended by a total of 495,889.
But it's the financial performance of the All-Ireland hurling championships which really helps to crystallise what a summer it was.
With 23,000 packing into Nowlan Park for the second round qualifier between Kilkenny and Tipperary, a further 50,000 in Semple Stadium for All-Ireland quarter-final and third round qualifier double-bills on successive July weekends and in excess of 60,000 at both All-Ireland semi-finals, all figures have risen sharply.
The combined average attendance for All-Ireland series games in both codes was 19,092 and the overall rise in attendances is 11pc, up by 85,000, ensuring gate receipts represent 54pc of all revenues.
"The most gratifying figure is that our gate receipts reached over €29m for the year," reflected Tom Ryan, the GAA's director of finance. "That was above the target that we set ourselves at the outset and €2m ahead of where we were in 2012."
Only three years ago GAA director-general Paraic Duffy was warning in his annual report about the challenges that the economic slide the country was facing presented to the GAA and while those challenges have not subsided, two years of recovery have helped to create a "stable" situation overall.
Better marketing of games and attractive ticket pricing and packages are other factors that supported the quality of both the hurling and football championships.
It was revealed that championship sponsors SuperValu and Centra sold 205,000 tickets through their outlets generating €3.5m in sales.
The rise in attendance figures is the stand-out feature of the accounts with an increase of over €5m on 2011 figures.
The GAA took in €54.6m overall between gate receipts, commercial revenue, state funding for games development, and income from Croke Park.
The €2.6m in extra revenue helps lift the overall income by some €1.8m on 2012 figures.
In all, there were 346 games played between All-Ireland championships, leagues, U-21 and minor championships, club championships, Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher Cups, inter-provincial championships and the international rules series but Ryan pointed out that just 53 of these were profitable.
The most significant decrease in gate receipts came from National Hurling League games with a 29pc fall recorded, down to €921,000 from €1.3m. Football league revenues improved by almost €300,000 to €2.25m, Dublin's presence in the football final an obvious lift to that figure.
Commercial revenue remains steady with media broadcast rights jumping to €10.1 from €9.7.
Sponsorship revenues from the 17 partners across all competitions were down however from €7.1m in 2012 to €6.65m last year.
After match-day costs that incorporates rental of stadia, referees' expenses, ticketing costs, medals and a €4,000,000 spend on the international rules series, games development remains the biggest source of expenditure.
A figure of €9,481,125 was spent in this area, in line with 2012 figures of which almost €3m was spent on the 200 full-time and part-time coaching personnel.
Some €2.13m was dedicated specifically to hurling, a slight decrease, while the grant for Dublin games development was down to €1.47m from €1.55m.
State funding for such projects amounted to €2.55m, down from €2.71m in 2012.
The spend on the international rules series is balanced over the current two-year cycle but there are growing doubts about its capacity to pay its way in the current climate given that the visiting team now funds itself from the proceeds of its home matches.
The redistribution of money to counties was slightly higher than 2012 figures with €11.67m being returned by way of team costs, league distribution and royalties on top of basic distributions from commercial income.
Ryan again sounded a cautious note about the gap between what Croke Park can redistribute and what teams continue to spend on their preparations.
Overall administration costs were €8.56m, up from €8.33m in 2012, while player welfare contributions between schemes and insurance pay-outs were €3.5m.
One of the most significant rises in expenditure under operating costs is for IT with new systems driving annual costs up to almost €800,000 from €519,000 in 2012.
The retained surplus for 2013 was just €114,217.
GAA income summary
2013 2012 %
Gate receipts 29.4m 26.8m +10%
Commercial 17.3m 17.5m -1%
State funding 2.9m 3.1m -5%
Other income 5.0m 5.4m -7%
Total 54.6m 52.8m 3%