Hockey chiefs warn of potential ‘crisis year’ after overspend

Irish hockey chiefs claim former coach Paul Revington and his management team were responsible for a €37,000 overspend that leaves the national body facing a potential financial “crisis year” in 2013.

At a special general meeting of the Irish Hockey Association on Sunday, board member Julie Beamish said the senior men’s spending in the build-up to March’s Olympic qualifiers “should have been micro-managed”.

The meeting was called by 12 clubs in the wake of the IHA board’s decision to withdraw the senior men from the Champions Challenge I in Argentina.

Initially citing the lack of a coach or manager in place, it was subsequently revealed amid public outcry that lack of finance was the primary issue. The team was reinstated after a fundraising drive yielded €60,000 in four days, and went on to claim third place with a golden goal 4-3 victory over Malaysia on Sunday.

As Ireland came face to face with their former mentor Revington — now in charge of Malaysia — in Quilmes, back in Dublin the board said he and his management team were responsible for an overspend totalling €37,546 up to August 2012.

Club delegates replied that the IHA should have noticed such problems long before October, when the attempt was made to withdraw the side from the Champions Challenge I. Asked what financial controls were in place and whether they were adequate, IHA board chairman Dennis Millar replied: “Clearly they weren’t — we made a mess of it.” He added that the board had initially hoped fundraising efforts would meet the deficit.

IHA chief executive Mike Heskin then warned that 2013 had potential to be a “crisis year” financially with high performance programmes set to be trimmed to suit. Each Irish team — U16, U18, U21 and senior — has already asked for €8,167 in player contributions towards the cost of their respective programmes.

Of immediate concern is February’s World League round two; it will cost between €120,000 and €160,000 — depending on training camps — in total to prepare and field sides in the men’s and women’s competitions, with further costs coming should Ireland progress to round three.

The situation is complicated by the fact that the amount the IHA receives from Irish Sports Council grants will not be confirmed until March.

Irish players moved quickly in the aftermath of the victory over Malaysia to remind the public via Twitter that their financial support hadn’t been forgotten.

John Jackson tweeted: “Thanks everyone who threw €’s at us. YOU all turned what could have been a 3yr setback into a momentum kick for a big future #greenmachine”.

Former IHA chief executive Paul Varian called on the Irish Sports Council to respond to the team’s achievements by backing themfinancially. He tweeted: “Congrats @irishhockey for amazing bronze medal! Amazing how far the program has come. Huge shout out to all involved. ISC, fund this team!”

Meanwhile, the draws for the next rounds of the Irish Junior Cup, Irish Hockey Trophy and Irish Hockey Challenge competitions were all made yesterday.

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