Sports budget chopped by €23m

THE country’s sports sector suffered a considerable cut amounting to €23.5 million in yesterday’s budget, well over a fifth of it’s entire worth in 2010.

In all, €91.5m has been set aside for 2011, down from €115m.

The main reason for the decrease came in the form of the Sports Capital Programme which, with no new projects, has dropped from €48m to €33m, although that latter figure includes €5m of the monies allocated for this year which were not drawn down.

The Irish Sports Council (ISC) has also had to digest a further — though less dramatic — erosion of funds with 5% of its working capital shaved off for 2011. That body’s total spend for the next calendar year now stands at €46.9m.

The ISC is responsible for the allocation of funds through the High Performance grants, Sports Partnership Fund and grants to National Governing Bodies (NGBs) so the snips will spread to all corners of the sector.

Plans for the allocation of those funds for 2011 are already at an advanced stage and it will now fall on ISC officials to factor in the latest financial realities before announcing those figures on the first three months of the new year.

Though any decrease is unwanted, it is far from a worst-case scenario and ISC chief executive John Treacy put a positive spin on it.

“The number is positive for our point of view because we will not have to go dismantling programmes,” said Treacy.

As for the rest of the funds, €5m has been set aside for work on the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, most of which will be ring-fenced for a headquarters for the country’s 60-plus NGBs.

There is a reduction of 3.3% for the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund which will still receive more than €50m while the announcement that online betting will be subject to the same betting duty as in bookie shops has furrowed some brows.

“We are very disappointed with the news,” said a Boylesports spokesperson. “Boylesports are registered in Ireland, we pay tax here, and what this new measure has done is put us at a huge disadvantage with our offshore competitors.

“We’re very concerned with how the government are going to regulate the offshore competitors who are not registered in Ireland. This new taxation will have a negative effect on job creation.”

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