Gaelic Players Association reports a 'positive financial year'

The organisation published its annual report for the 2019 on Wednesday
Gaelic Players Association reports a 'positive financial year'
GPA CEO Paul Flynn, right, and GPA Chairman Séamus Hickey at Annual Congress last February. The players body reports a suplus of around €80,000 for the year. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach, Sportsfile

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) is reporting a reduced surplus for 2019, of over €80,000, compared to a figure of over €300,000 for 2018, though it earned over €1.5 million in commercial income alone last year.

The organisation published its annual report for the year 2019 Wednesday and declared a surplus after taxation which amounted to €87,674 - in 2018 that figure was €306,300.

At the end of the year, the company had total assets of €4,172,598 (2018: €4,253,444) and liabilities of €3,519.

The report describes 2019 as a “positive financial year” for the player representative body, outlining the reason income is down by 0.5 per cent from the previous year “to €7,574,371 principally as a result of decreased fundraising income.

“Commercial revenues of €911,007 were up 2% compared to 2018 (€892,108) through the activities of the Le Chéile commercial partnership with the GAA.

“This partnership aims to ensure that additional independent player-generated commercial funding is available to supplement core funding from the GAA. This in turn allows for additional investment in player services.” 

The report also touched on the funding stream from the GAA: “Total GAA funding to the GPA amounted to €2,970,572 as a result of the 15% link to the GAA’s Central Council Net Commercial Revenues. This funding agreement which expires in 2019 (but which will continue to apply in 2020) establishes a long-term commitment to link player welfare and development with the GAA’s commercial success.” 

The report adds: “A further €3,000,000 (2018: €3,000,000) in annual grant funding is provided from Sport Ireland via the GAA, and the GPA is responsible for ensuring that such government funding is made available to GAA inter-county players, as instructed, under the Sport Ireland Inter County Player Support Schemes 2017 -2019.” 

The organisation’s turnover for 2019 was €7,574,371, slightly down on the equivalent 2018 figure of €7,610,731.

The report refers to ten employees in total with an associated employment cost - emoluments, social welfare costs and pension costs - of €742,367, an increase from the 2018 figure of €718,183, adding: “The total remuneration for key management personnel for the financial year amounted to €449,163 (2018: €412,109).” The GPA’s focus on players is detailed in financial detail in the report.

“The GPA continues to invest in the health, welfare and development of players so that they can reach their full potential and develop the skills they need to achieve fulfilling lives and careers off the field of play,” the report states, adding: “a total of €2,604,632 (2018: €2,323,054) has been spent in this area in 2019, including key transformational programmes . . . internationally recognised including scholarships, education and training supports, personal development coaching, leadership development courses and career development services alongside welfare services and the funding of evidence-based research.” 

As with other organisations, the report takes cognisance of the impact of COVID-19 on its operations: “In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic the directors recognise its significant and material impact on the future financial performance of the company.

“The serious steps taken by the management team to protect services and to preserve cash reflect the scale and uncertainty of the health crisis. The directors have assessed the projected reduction in revenue and the consequent reduction in planned expenditure.

“The directors have a reasonable expectation that the company has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. Thus, they continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the annual financial statements.” 

A detailed breakdown of the GPA’s revenue shows that the income from government remains constant at €3 million for 2019 and 2018, though there is an increase in funding from the GAA - €2,970,572 this year compared to €2,895,000 last year.

There will be keen interest in the organisation’s commercial income - this amounted to €911,007 this year (an increase from 892,108 last year) but its fundraising income showed a significant drop in the last two years - €611,994 this year compared to 737,626 for 2018. In total, however, that amounts to over €1.5 million in commercial income clear of GAA and Sport Ireland grants.

The report breaks down the sources of that fundraising income, stating: “For 2019, €611,994 came primarily from the Hurling and Football Former Players Events, our Super 11’s and Gala Dinner events in New York and our Boston CEO luncheon. Commercial income of €911,007 was generated by the Le Chéile commercial partnership.

“The costs associated with fundraising events are included alongside the costs of all commercial activities in our direct costs figure of €663,300.” 

The rest of the revenue is generated from membership fees - €63,565 this year, €65,398 last year - and benevolent fund donations: €17,233 for 2019 and €20,591 for 2018.

The organisation’s revenue is dispersed as follows: 81 per cent is allocated to player development programmes and player welfare, 14 per cent to operating costs, other programmes get 3 per cent, organisational development 1 per cent and surplus retained 2 per cent.

It is reporting an increase in players using the organisation’s services, with 1,448 individual players supported in 2019, a 31 per cent increase on 2018, and 2,221 programmes delivered (rounded figures).

Away from strictly financial matters, the GPA’s annual report for 2019 is also pointing to significant activity in other areas.

For instance, the report cites: “Representation on GAA Fixture Review Task Force, pushing the GPA priority areas: limit multiple eligibility, a defined off-season for players, a more defined April club month, (and the) establishment of focus group of players to engage GAA on Tier Two football championship.” 

In squad representation matters the report states: “Squad Charter agreements in place for all 67 squads; representation on behalf of 25 squads resulting in satisfactory resolution to charter and expense issues,” while on the research front it cites: “Publication of second ESRI Report into demands of the inter-county game (and) Indecon report commissioned to examine the economic impact of the inter-county game; publication of the GPA Student Report.” 

The organisation refers to participation in international bodies with: “Presentation of GPA Rookie Camp at World Players Association Conference Amsterdam; representation on World Players Association Steering Committee; partner on Erasmus Plus Project to develop international leadership programme,” while also engaged in social activities in Ireland: “Collaboration with Road Safety Authority on national road safety campaign with four national ambassadors; development of partnership with Webwise for cyber bullying awareness campaign; (and) consultation with committee on communications on anti-hate speech campaign.” 

The report goes on to instance 88 cases where counselling services were availed of, 313 instances of cardiac screening, 574 mouth guards being allocated, and ten instances of both the benevolent fund and the past players medical and surgical intervention fund being used.

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