Saturday 16 December 2017

IRFU close to clearing Aviva bill


THE IRFU have only €6m left to pay on their share of the cost of the new Lansdowne Road, despite the stadium only opening for business this month.

Figures revealed in the union's annual report show they are well on track to square away their share of the cost ahead of the target date of 2020.

Between their previous cash balance and advance seat sales the IRFU have been able to put a huge hole in their part of the stadium bill, which came to €104m. The stadium was delivered on time in April for €411m, of which the Government provided €191m and Aviva rowed in with €45m for the naming rights.

That left the IRFU having to pay €104m and the FAI €71m. Moreover, the union have paydays coming down the track in 2013 when 3,700 seats will be available for resale, and then in 2015 when another 1,300 will become vacant. The potential haul from that combined sale is €74.5m.

However, the IRFU honorary treasurer Tom Grace warned that the future depended on rugby maintaining its high income from TV rights, Ireland's share of which increased again last year.

He described the proposal by communications minister Eamon Ryan to list the Heineken Cup free to air as "a very, very serious threat to our wellbeing".

Ticket prices in the new Aviva Stadium will be modelled on the most expensive seats sold while the IRFU were tenants in Croke Park, so €90 is likely to be the starting point.

Sunday Independent

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