The “legal fees” referred to in Cork GAA’s annual report relate to the controversial High Court case involving the Board and former administrator Diarmuid O’Donovan, which was resolved with a confidential settlement earlier this year.
According to the report, officials within the Board were divided on how to proceed in this matter — “While the redundancy case which consumed the headlines last January has divided many, we remain ever grateful to the support provided by Croke Park and in particular Seamus Given, Head of Employment Group at Arthur Cox who was appointed before the process began.
“While an alternative opinion was put by a number of County Committee members, it remains our contention that we sought the best advice, implemented best practice and at all times protected the interests of the board as we were mandated to do.”
How do you measure All-Ireland success? If it’s Under 20 or minor, then not financially. In 2018, Chill Insurance paid Cork €400,000 but this figure was €330,000 for 2019.
“Our sponsors are brilliant supporters but new deals are now performance-related,” Kevin O’Donovan said. “While our underage teams were successful, it’s not linked to that, it’s linked to the success of the senior teams. While the footballers had a good year, we didn’t get to All-Ireland semi-finals in either code and that’s where we need to be pitching up to maximise sponsorship.
“We do need more commercial partners, we are behind the curve with other counties in that. There will be a commercial manager appointed in the medium term, that has got to come urgently. You might think that if we’re running losses then the last thing we need is (more) staff, but we need people who can generate revenue.”
Cork GAA chair Tracey Kennedy revealed there is a high probability of another big name concert coming to Pairc Ui Chaoimh next year — and things are looking promising too for 2021. However, these are the bonus days, explained Kevin O’Donovan.
“Concerts are a lucky day, depending who’s touring this year and when. I wouldn’t like to build a business model though for as stadium totally reliant on concerts. They’re like replays – brilliant when they come.”
With the Páirc pitch problems apparently sidelined, the stadium board says it can now move on aggressively with the business of naming rights and premium ticket packages. O’Donovan said they “pressed pause on premium naming rights, county championship sponsors etc. It is fundamental to a lot of things that we have a bulletproof pitch. We have that now and will proceed but the naming rights market is pretty narrow and specialist.”