Kennedy moves to allay concerns over Cork future

Kennedy moves to allay concerns over Cork future

While a backlash may have been expected at last night’s Cork County Board meeting at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, relations between the executive and club delegates were cordial.

Reports had circulated saying that the board’s audit and risk sub-committee had growing concerns regarding the state of finances, especially those relating to the developed stadium, and were considering resigning. The committee consists of chair Gerard Lyons, Ciarán Murphy, Róisín O’Sullivan, and Michael Harte.

However, county chairperson Tracey Kennedy took the wind out of any dissenting sails early in the meeting as she relayed the positive correspondence between the executive and the audit and risk committee.

“We had a very constructive meeting with them on January 6,” she said, “it wasn’t possible to hold it earlier due to Christmas, and it was really useful.

“There are some excellent people on the committee, there was a very good discussion around concerns, mainly relating to the reporting of stadium accounts and finances.

“I can’t over-stress the value of their advice and input, as an executive we made it clear that we hoped they would continue — we put them there to question us. They agreed to reflect on the situation and come back to us and we agreed to put together a timeline for reporting the finances.

“On February 3, there is an audit planning meeting with EY, on February 10 there is a stadium board meeting and the accounts for 2019 will be presented. The audit is scheduled to be completed by February 21 and it’s expected that the accounts will be signed off and presented to the board by mid-to-late March. The consolidated accounts will then be presented.

“I want to reiterate, there’s no point anyone fooling themselves that these accounts will paint a pretty picture as the stadium had a bad year in 2019, it was closed for a large part of it. Certainly, there will be losses but we’ll have definite figures.

We conveyed that to the audit and risk committee, who came back to us and thanked us for meeting them, they emphasised that their wish is to help the board in dealing with complex issues. They would prefer a shorter timeline but they do accept that this is the best that can be achieved for 2019.

"They hope, going forward, that consolidated accounts will be available at year-end with the board’s accounts. They assured us that they are anxious to help and support us.”

Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh of Midleton asked if it was possible to give a clear idea about the current position, how much is owed, to whom and by whom. Kennedy said there was nothing she would like more than to give that information but there was no way she could put out a figure unless she was sure about it. “As soon as we have it, we will give it,” she said.

“I’m hopeful there will be a resolution in the next four-to-six months but I can’t be certain.”

County secretary/CEO Kevin O’Donovan reported that things remain on schedule for the handover of Páirc Uí Chaoimh back to the board for the double-header there on Saturday week as Cork take on Offaly in the Allianz FL Division 3, preceded by the ladies’ meeting of Cork and Westmeath.

O’Donovan said that the county have to embrace the Páirc and he was certain that the future of this board involves having a deeper role in the stadium and addressing the concerns around it.

Responding to a question from Kieran McGann (Castlelyons) as to whether it would be better to have such games in Páirc Uí Rinn, O’Donovan said that there was increased scrutiny in place to avoid waste but Cork had to avoid being pennywise and pound-foolish.

“The premium seat sales raised €4m, I wonder how happy they would be if there was a redeveloped pitch here and we told them the match was in Páirc Uí Rinn and we’d meet them upstairs for a cup of tea at half-time?

These savings are something I would have previously argued for at executive level, but we must look at the bigger picture, things like naming rights can’t be sold if there are doubts about Cork teams playing here.

Niall Dunne of Castlemagner asked what autonomy Cork have regarding ticket prices for the league and Tracey Kennedy said they were set centrally but Cork did not charge the recommended €5 for U16s.

Kieran McGann and John Arnold (Bride Rovers) took issue with the possibility of delegates losing their free access to club games, something which had been discussed at the convention in December. Aidan O’Rourke (Carbery division) said that any savings from this move would amount to a pittance.

Willie Coleman (Ballinhassig), who had brought up that topic, made the case that everybody involved in the association was amateur and the people involved in clubs don’t receive such perks. John O’Flynn of Freemount agreed with this point of view.

Noel O’Callaghan (Clonakilty), Donal McSweeney (Ballinora), Michael Lyons (Araglen) and Tony McAuliffe (Duhallow) were elected as club and divisional delegates to the executive.

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