Outgoing Waterford County Board chairman Paddy Joe Ryan believes that a spending limit on inter-county teams should be considered by the GAA.
An emotional Ryan made his final address to a packed room in Lawlors Hotel last night, ending a 25-year involvement with Waterford GAA, before he handed over to Sean Michael O’Regan.
“One of the hardest jobs we now have is to manage finances because of the huge spending on inter-county teams which is unfortunately not matched by a corresponding increase in attendances at club matches,” said Ryan.
"Maybe it’s time for the GAA to cap spending on inter-county team preparation in order to level the playing field."
“Something will need to be done because, in an amateur organisation, counties should not be able to win All-Ireland titles on the basis of financial advantage.
"The level of expenditure is becoming unsustainable.”
He is confident that construction work will commence at Walsh Park after the Munster hurling championship next summer.
“One of my disappointments is that the redevelopment of Walsh Park has not commenced under my chairmanship but I firmly believe that after our two home games in the Munster championship in 2020, the board can proceed to implement the plans which we have been given approval for.
"We are hopeful that the funding will be approved by the Government in the near future and that Central and Munster funding will follow.”
He maintained that Walsh Park is the right ground for Waterford to refurbish.
“As has been explained over and over again here at county board meetings, GAA officials have made it very clear to us over the past number of years that the city venue is the only avenue they wish to pursue as regards upgrading due to its central location, its accessibility and its financial viability and hopefully that argument has now been put to the bed.”
Ryan also feels that the GAA must provide regular games for the club player.
“Many club players go for long periods without playing any games and their calendar is subject how the inter-county teams perform in the championship.
"This means that their whole year is very uncertain making it difficult to plan holidays and this is very unfair.
"Inter-county players are being overstretched and clubs players are being isolated and something will need to be done to find a better balance.”
O’Regan will take the reigns as chairman after serving alongside Ryan for the last five years as vice-chairman.
Waterford reported a small profit of €47,317 in 2019. Income totalled €1,934,656 while expenditure came in at €1,887,339.
Gaultier delegate Richard Finnegan noted that Wexford generated €3m in income and asked what measures were in place for revenue growth.
Ryan replied that a strategic review committee has been appointed and highlighted the struggles in attracting sponsors.
“There’s no magic wand for making money or sparing money,” he said.
Kevin Lonergan from Kilrossanty argued that Waterford can’t afford to send teams abroad on training camps.
The board spent €66,224 on a trip to Portugal for the senior hurlers in 2019.
The cost of inter-county teams increased to €807,453.
Accounts administrator Owen Sauvage told delegates that catering (€162,000), sports gear (€149,000) and mileage (€136,000) were the big areas of expenditure.
He also revealed that the cost of Waterford football teams has jumped by 78% in the past five years.
Brendan Tobin was elected Central Council delegate, defeating Tom Cunningham by 83 votes to 58.