Euro cash crisis looming for IRFU
THE IRFU have identified the future of the Heineken Cup as a major risk to their finances as they head into negotiations on the structure of the competition.
The English and French clubs have signalled their intent to withdraw from the competition at the end of the 2013-14 season if changes are not made to the current structure and the distribution of prize money.
Speaking at the IRFU's annual council meeting, honorary treasurer Tom Grace highlighted the potential problems after another season in which ERC revenues contributed handsomely to the union's balance sheet. Provincial income improved by €1.8m as a result of Leinster and Ulster's march to the European final in May.
Negotiations on the Heineken Cup will begin this autumn and IRFU chief executive Philip Browne admitted that there will need to be some compromise if the competition is to continue.
"One assumes we will reach some sort of accommodation through a negotiation process," he said after the meeting at the Aviva Stadium.
"The French and English clubs have made known their intention to withdraw from the Heineken Cup and there is a two-year period in which we can reach agreement with them. Alternatively, the competition ceases.
"The reality is, like any negotiation, there will have to be give-and-take from both sides. I don't think anyone has laid out their position yet, it is early days.
The IRFU reported a surplus of €7.8m for last season. That came about as a result of revenues of €67.2m and expenditure of €59.4m.
Browne welcomed a strong season off the pitch, but warned that the union's financial position will come under pressure when approximately 3,200 10-year tickets expire in 2013.
"We had a great year in many ways," he said. "In terms of performances of the provinces, in particular, the national team performed well in terms of attracting crowds.
"We still have a struggle financially in trying to deal with the debt on the stadium. Repayments have to be made next year to the bank, but it is the same kind of challenge facing any business or organisation and we have to face up to that.
"I would envisage that a number of the 10-year tickets will be taken up, but equally some won't."
Meanwhile, Galwegians' Billy Glynn has been appointed president of the IRFU for 2012-13.
A retired solicitor and revenue sheriff from Galway, Glynn played for an Irish U-23 XV before retiring prematurely due to a neck injury at the age of 24. He has since acted as chairman of the Connacht senior team selection committee and was president of the Connacht Branch in 2000/1.