Dublin grassroots development threatened by cuts

Dublin GAA’s investment in games development at underage level is under threat following a failure to reach 2012’s income targets but the board have vowed not to jeopardise county teams’ preparations.

Last year, Dublin County Board launched their Unleashing the Blue Wave: A Strategic Plan for Dublin 2011-2017 and outlined plans to increase current investment of €3m in youth games development to meet future needs. Plans were unfurled to unearth new revenue streams and projections were made based on potential earnings.

However, those plans are currently being downgraded following a disappointing year.

“Revenue streams, as forecast in my report to convention last year, were most challenging with a significant drop in commercial income, fundraising and ground advertising,” wrote county chief executive John Costello.

“Regarding costs, our main focus next year will be to respond to the downturn in our revenues whilst at the same time preserving a proportionate investment in core strategic programmes.

“However, the investment in coaching and games development will need to be reviewed as many clubs are struggling to meet their funding commitment for their Games Promotion Officers. The Coaching and Games Development Department in Croke Park has indicated to us that their funding for the current year is down €500,000 and that they propose to reduce our grant. This threat may lead to changes in the strategic investment in youth development in Dublin.

“The board is committed to controlling the expenditure on inter-county teams. Contracts for transport, catering etc. are in place following a tendering process and strict budgetary controls are in position for each team. The board is currently considering the employment of a physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach to work with all our inter-county teams.”

With financial constraints prevalent in all counties, the Dublin board called on every convention around the country to give their support to a motion opening Croke Park for the IRFU’S bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

It’s understandable given the financial pressure Dublin clubs are under at the moment. Costello highlighted the improvement in club facilities over the past 10 years but accused banks of playing hardball with those struggling to meet repayments.

As a result, the board is setting up a committee to help clubs.

“These developments were not just invaluable to the GAA but also to the community as a whole. The clubhouse is often the focus of all activities in the locality. However, a number of our clubs are currently stretched and stressed in trying to meet their loan repayments.

“Over the past year, I have been involved in a number of cases with clubs who wish to restructure their loans. It is regrettable that these banks — who themselves borrowed excessively on the corporate and international money markets and recycled these funds into property loans to developers — are refusing to play ball.

“In recognition of the demands placed on clubs to repay these borrowings, undertaken in good faith and in different economic times, the board hopes to utilise the services of some experienced personnel who have taken early retirement from the financial services/accountancy sectors.”

However, the board is confident its plans to develop a purpose-built training/coaching facility in the Sports Campus Ireland development at Abbotstown will go ahead.


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