Waterford officials said the move was made due to the “precarious state” of their finances in these recessionary times and claimed they had received agreement on the plan from their counterparts in Cork and Tipperary, who were on the other side of the draw.
Sources close to the negotiations claim the proposed agreement was worth €50,000 to Waterford coffers.
The arrangement sparked an angry response from the Munster Council who insisted the deal was undertaken without their backing. The proposal, revealed exclusively in the Irish Examiner last week, also provoked a massive backlash from Waterford players, management and supporters.
Last night Waterford County Board issued a lengthy statement outlining their actions and expressed regret for any embarrassment and inconvenience caused to the Munster Council and its officers and to the boards and officers of Cork and Tipperary.
However, the board insisted that they were acting in the best interest of the GAA in Waterford.
The statement said: “As has been reported at the last two county board meetings the financial position of Waterford County Board is in a very precarious state.
“Over the past few months, the executive of Waterford Co Board has put in place a number of initiatives to reduce costs/expenditure but it is also conscious of the need to raise additional income. With this in mind the executive entered into negations with both Cork and Tipperary County Boards as to the possibility of playing the 2010 Munster Hurling final in either Cork or Thurles should Waterford qualify to meet either in the final.
“A substantial five-figure sum, to be paid to Waterford County Board, was agreed with both counties on the understanding that Waterford would travel to either Cork or Thurles to play either in their “home” venue.
“With this understanding in place, Waterford’s Munster Council representative, acting with the unanimous support of the county executive, requested that the Munster Council fix the Munster Hurling final for Cork if it was a Waterford v Cork pairing and for Thurles in the event of a Waterford v Tipperary final.”
However, officials last night revealed a potential provincial final clash against Cork in Cork – and the public backlash to the suggestion – caused them to scrap their agreement and revert to the Munster Council’s original plan to stage the game at a neutral venue.
“When Cork were victorious over Tipperary and it subsequently became public that a Cork v Waterford final would be played in Cork, it rapidly became apparent in Waterford, that the team management, players, clubs and supporters were totally opposed to the idea. Such was the level of opposition from all quarters within the county that the executive felt that it had no choice but to ask the Munster Council to revert to the original plan to play the final at a neutral venue.
“It is important to point out that this was to be a ‘once-off’ arrangement solely for financial reasons and that there was no mention or negotiation of a “home and away” arrangement with either county.
“The statement made by the county board chairman referred only to the home and away arrangement which was reported in the media. Waterford does not have a stadium with a capacity large enough to enter into such an arrangement.
“The executive of Waterford County Board fully accept that the officers of the Munster Council acted properly at all times in this matter and in accordance with the wishes of the Waterford County Board executive.
“Waterford County Board regret any embarrassment and inconvenience caused to the Munster Council and its officers and to the boards and officers of Cork and Tipperary.”