Kevin O'Donovan confident cash flow will keep Cork GAA afloat

With an end of year deficit inevitable for 2020, O’Donovan says Cork are already looking towards the 2021 financial year
Kevin O'Donovan confident cash flow will keep Cork GAA afloat

EXCITING PARTNERSHIP: Irish Examiner editor Tom Fitzpatrick and Cork GAA chairperson Tracey Kennedy at the launch of the Irish Examiner’s three-year media partnership with Cork GAA, along with Conor Cahalane, St Finbarr’s, Irish Examiner marketing manager Karen O'Donoghue, and Micheal Aodh Martin, Nemo Rangers. Picture: Cathal Noonan

Cork GAA CEO Kevin O’Donovan has said it is inevitable each county board will record a deficit for 2020.

Following the announcement last November that Cork County Board had recorded losses totalling €559k for 2019, O’Donovan admitted finances in the county were close to “crisis point”.

The lockdown of recent months means the accounts for 2020 will again be in the red, but the CEO sounded a note of optimism this week when pointing to their “good position in terms of cash flow”.

The recent Government decision not to enter Phase 4 on Monday, July 20, was a hammer blow to Cork finances as the county board had deliberately held off commencing their club championship program until this weekend when crowds of 500 would be permitted.

Keeping the outdoor limit at 200 until at least August 10 means Cork will lose out on an estimated €206k in gate receipts across the next three weekends of action.

At the final Cork county board meeting in March before the country went into lockdown, the top table outlined plans for a “coordinated financing approach” between the Cork county board executive, the stadium board, supporters group Cairde Chorcaí, the financial advisory and planning sub-committee, and other independent persons. This joined-up approach, as well as the future running and financing of both the stadium and county board, was to be mapped out in a business plan.

O’Donovan said work continues on restructuring their financial model.

“We were facing major financial challenges before Covid-19 happened and needed to go on a new journey, which we are going on,” remarked the Cork GAA CEO.

“We are putting huge efforts into generating commercial revenue, as is evidenced by the announcement of recent deals, so we are trying our best to mitigate against [the financial implications of lockdown].

“The priority, for now, is to make good financial decisions, engage with partners, get crowds back to games, and cut our costs. We are doing all those.”

With an end of year deficit inevitable for 2020, O’Donovan says Cork are already looking towards the 2021 financial year and putting in place a solid foundation.

“The challenge for all boards is that we are still running activities but are not able to generate gates. It is all about cash flow for boards at the moment to stay afloat. We are in a good position there.

“But in terms of the whole model, we are carrying out a major review because we are running a game that is becoming professional in some senses and we are running it in a very voluntary way in another sense, and there is a slight contradiction there.

I am all for the standards at inter-county level and the high level the games have gone to is just incredible, but we have to make sure the financial model fits then and that costs don't get out of control.”

Elsewhere, Westmeath GAA is the second county to confirm their live streaming service will come at a price of €10 per game. Tipperary last week announced they would be charging viewers €10 for each live-streamed county championship game, the most expensive live streaming offering among the county boards who have confirmed their prices.

“Streams are expensive, so we have had to put a charge on the games of €10. But we feel it’ll be worth it. We think it’ll be good value for money,” said Westmeath PRO Donie Malone.

Neighbouring Offaly on Wednesday announced they will be charging €5 per game. GAA bosses in Clare, meanwhile, have settled on a price of €7.80 for live games and €3.50 for deferred games.

Round 1 of the Clare SHC throws-in this weekend, with five of the eight games down for decision to be streamed live. There will be deferred coverage of the remaining three senior hurling championship first-round fixtures, as well as the eight intermediate championship games scheduled for this weekend.

The live streaming of five games across one weekend, as well as deferred coverage of a further 11 fixtures, is linked to the county board’s decision that Clare championship games will be played behind-closed-doors while the outdoor crowd limit remains at 200.

Separately, Mayo GAA club Louisburgh has confirmed club activity will resume this Friday after shutting down over the weekend because of concerns related to a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the Louisburgh area.

A statement from the club read: “Louisburgh GAA confirms that contact tracing has been completed and the club is informed that no club or team member is implicated directly by this case.”

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